Tag Archives: Father

O Happy Fault[1]: Blessings in Peculiar Packages #1

God’s blessings sometimes come in very peculiar packages. In my works of charity, it is pride. How can I conceive of such a thing? Pride is a sin! Nonetheless I repeat that God uses this blight on my character as an avenue down which grace can flow.

By allowing me to preen and puff over the trifles I do, Jesus has handed me a branding iron and has me stamp “No Reward” all over each of my actions. Jesus compares me to the hypocrites He berates three times in succession in Matthew 6: first for blowing trumpets to win the praise of others [2][Mt 6:2a] when giving alms; second for showing off while praying so that others may see them [Mt 6:5a]; and finally for looking gloomy and disheveled so that they may appear to others to be fasting.[Mt 6:16a] In all three instances, Jesus denunciation and condemnation of such public show is the same: Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. [Mt 6:2b,5b,16b]

I may attempt to fool myself into thinking that I do not show off externally, thus gloating over my superiority over such hypocrites…an utter charade. I may pretend to “swallow my pride” and play at false humility, pride’s foulest ludicrous and pitiable mockery. I may simply pat myself on my proverbial back and present myself with pseudo-kudos for being “such a good boy” in helping others, when, in truth, I have used them by my actions, my charity sanctimonious lies. I may even play at such right here and now with a display of verbal dexterity.

And all for naught….For Jesus turns to me each time I pretend and says in no uncertain terms: Amen, I say to you,…[you] have received…[your] reward. And the insane aspect of it all is that I know in my heart of hearts that He judges me with this O, so cruel yet truth-filled condemnation every time…and yet I keep on doing it again and again and again, in never ceasing stupidity. I am just like my namesake, St. Paul: What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hateThe willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. [Rom 7:15,18] I am truly insane, according to Albert Einstein, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.[3]Miserable one that I am! Who will deliver me from this mortal body? [Rom 7:24]

And if you think this is an addiction, it is. Any sin that becomes a habit is probably addictive. Let’s face it: it looks like a duck, waddles like a duck, quacks like a duck, then, by Jove, it’s a duck! Fortunately, thanks to the grace God gave Bill W. and others, we have a program that fights addiction. Since my life is unmanageable and I have concluded that I am insane, I must join all the other addicts, in this case, sinners of the world, and come “to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity” and then make “a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”[4]

In case I think that if I get rid of pride, I have it made…think again. In this, Bill W echoes Jesus’ “No way!” Jesus says: All who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.the law does not depend on faith; rather, “the one who does these things will live by them.” [Gal 3:10,12] Whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. [James 2:10] Therefore, any trip up, any slight deviation, any “venial” sinful act and I am cursed. If I try to follow the law, I will fall. And the law has no safety net…one fall, I am guilty, I am cursed. That no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for “the one who is righteous by faith will live.” [Gal 3:11]

Without Divine intervention, we are caught in a Catch 22, a vortex that inevitably leads to condemnation, death, and eternal punishment. For only God [Mark 2:7] and those to whom God has given the power [Jn 20:22-23] can forgive sin. But, thanks be to God, the Father, who for our sake…made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him. [2 Cor 5:21] Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree,”…so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.[Gal 3:13,14b]

I can be thankful for the fact that, though I am judged guilty of sin, God says to me, “I so loved the world that...[I] gave…[my] only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For…[I] did not send…[my] Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. [Jn 3:16-17] Believe in me, believe in my Son, believe that Jesus took your guilt for those sins of yours, your condemnation of Him, your blows as you scourged him, your taunting as you crowned Him with thorns, your betrayal as you denied him, your hatred as you screamed “Crucify Him, crucify Him”…He endured all these things for Your sake, took them with Him to the Cross and there forgave you for you did not know what you were doing. [Lk 23:34] For every time you sin, you in effect reenact the entire passion, re-betraying, re-arresting, re-judging, re-interrogating, re-scourging, re-crowning, re-condemning my Son. And each time, each and every time, He forgives you and asks Me to forgive you. And, since He forgives you, neither do I condemn you. And I say to you: Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more. [Jn 8:11] You are no longer forever guilty of your sin; everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin;..[but] if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. [Jn 8:34,36] My Son freed you and My mercy triumphs over judgment.” [James 2:13b]

Thank You, Father, for turning all things, including pride, to work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. [Rom 8:28] Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] From the Exultet, the Proclamation that is sung during the Easter Vigil Liturgy. http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/p-30-exultet.html

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

[3] Albert Einstein Quotes, Brainy quote, http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/ a/alberteins133991.html#yQWHIbTCt6MDpevx.99

[4] Steps One, Two and Three, The Twelve Steps Of Alcoholics Anonymous, Service Material from the General Service Office, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., http://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-121_en.pdf

Advertisements

Cana Update[1]

I am always brought up short by the strange encounter between Jesus and his mother at Cana. Jesus has already begun His public ministry, He’s been baptized, been to the desert, and is traveling around the country preaching with an entourage of His first disciples. He and his followers arrive at the wedding of friends and as the party is getting going, one of those “Opps” of life happens to the groom, the guests have imbibed all his wine. Mary gets wind of the embarrassment via the guest grape vine and informs Jesus.

Perhaps that all she intended to do, inform Him. Perhaps she hadn’t thought beyond that except that something needed to be done to help her friends. If this is the case, then Jesus enigmatic reply could be interpreted as an invitation to greater belief, to faith: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come. [2] [Jn 2:4] In other words, “Does your concern about the embarrassing situation of our friends affect the Kingdom which I have come to establish? Does it pertain to the Father’s will? There is a time and a place Providence has assigned for all things. The hour of my revelation of myself as the Messiah is not now.”

The response He invites from Mary is one of complete faith in God and trust in His guidance of Her. Perhaps this is a Mother-Son moment when He is sincerely asking for Her guidance. Her lesson to Him is that this concern does actually affect Him, as Elizabeth’s need affected her and as the concerns of all affect each of us. She may realize, though perhaps only peripherally, that all concerns need to be His concerns, all needs His needs, not just on a human level, but on His Savior level, His Kingship level, His Divine level. Perhaps this is the “Ah-Ha” moment when she knows He must realize the full import of His being connected with every other human being by virtue of His very Incarnation. Perhaps this is what He later would formulate in His parable on the Last Judgment: whatever you…[do] for one of these least brothers of mine, you…[do] for me. [Mt 25:40] Perhaps He needed to grok the depth and the encompassing reality of the 2nd Great Commandment: Do to others as you would have them do to you, [Lk 6:31] and that this included Him on the Divine level as well as the human level.

Mary’s answer: “Yes, this does affect You both as my Son, a fellow human being, one who is truly empathetic to all the vagaries and vicissitudes of live, the manifestations of the effect of sin in the world, of which lack and need, deprivation, running out of things, is always a sign. Your Father so loved this crazy, mixed up world with all its foibles that He gave us You so that we might believe in You and not perish but have eternal life, [Jn 3:16] Of Him, You will tell us do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’… Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. [Mt 6:31-33] You and the Father are one. [Jn 10:30] Show us the Father’s love here and now. You will talk the talk later, now walk the walk.”

How does she join Him in bringing about His first miracle? This is same way every believer who has ever “preformed” a miracle joins Him. No human actually “performs” a miracle. God does the performing; humans only express their explicit faith and trust in God to do so and thus are instruments through which God chooses to work. Every miracle not performed directly by Jesus is performed through the faith and instrumentality of a person requesting Jesus intercession and believing absolutely that He will intercede. The human person gives him/herself up to God and invites God to work through him/her; she/he transforms her/his self into God’s instrument.

Mary is not trying to override His or the Father’s timing of His hour, but, as with the Finding so many years before, she has explicit faith that, given her explanation, Jesus will do “the right thing.” She doesn’t press Him. She doesn’t define what He is to do, but she has an explicit faith that He will know what to do. Thus, when she says to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you,”[Jn 2:5] she lets go and lets God. Her statement is another way of saying what she says with her whole life, in her dormition, her assumption and even as she is crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth: May it be done to me according to your word. [Lk 1:38]

Obedience, then, comes back to its root meaning, “to listen to.” It’s not so much doing as being, as listening, as following, as joining in the yolk next to Jesus. To hear and let it be done to me, to have faith and trust in God, in whatever His eternal Now brings for my next step. It is to pick up one’s cross daily and to follow the Word, strap on His burden, take on His yolk and walk the world’s roads to the Calvaries of today with Him. It is to listen and hear the Spirit’s whispers of guidance and inspiration, to follow the promptings of one’s true heart, to the love of God and our fellow man to which we are called by our very nature as familial members, not just of the human family but of the very familial Body of Christ. We would not be here if it were not for God’s creation and we would not be human without accepting our place in the family of humankind and thus our relationship to all others.

Jesus obeys, Mary obeys, we obey, I obey. Listen, listen, listen and allow it to be done onto me. This is our calling, this is our “vocation,” this is our purpose in life. Amen. Alleluia!!!


[1] As with all my writings, I explain things in the way they make sense to me. In doing so, I often blindly wander into minefields of explanation into which scholars, saints and angels wisely do not venture. Therefore, take all I write not just with a grain of salt but with a whole mine of it. Please, please, please consider that I am just me, one very finite, very myopic, often very confused and mistaken man. I am often wrong. However, God guarantees the infallibility of the Catholic Church. Thus, if anything that I write contradicts or in any way conflicts with what the One, Holy, Apostolic Catholic Church has stated or defined, I profoundly apologize to my readers for misleading them, to the Church for contradicting our infallible Faith, Scripture and Tradition, and I beg God to have mercy on me, forgive me and write straight the crooked lines your wayward servant has written. I beg the forgiveness of all and ask for your prayers that I might have the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit to see aright once again.

[2] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

The Ask

“The Ask” is a fundraising term meaning the moment when the fundraiser, gauging that the donor is sufficiently convinced in the efficacy and need of the cause that the donor is ready to actually make a financial commitment, makes the actual request for the person to make a contribution.

When “the ask” is of God, I find things seem complicated. On the one hand, Jesus assures us that the Donor will give: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. [1] [Mt 7:7-8] Again, He says all we need is faith: whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive. [Mt 21:22] According to Jesus, in dealing with God, it is always good if you’re not just being selfish, if this need is a communal need: Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.[Mt 18:19][2]

With a non-profit here on earth, any donor wants to be certain, (a) that the cause is truly worthy of support, (b) that the need is great; (c) this organization is legit and actually does something to address this need, and (d) that the money will be used wisely and well for the purpose for which the donation is made, and not to pay exorbitant salaries or just to elicit more funds.

God is the same way. He (a) loves us unconditionally, (b) knows we need Him because He created us; (c) wants to be certain that we truly trust Him, and (d) that we show we believe in Him, and love Him by our actions: we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. [1Jn 3:21-22] And what pleases Him is that we love Him and show that love by loving everybody else: whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. [Mt 25:40]

When dealing with God, we have an “in” with the Donor; we go through the Donor’s Son. Jesus does “the ask” of the Father. “Jesus…[is] the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners. He is ‘able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.’ [Heb 7:25]”[3]

Our own fear and bumbling cause us to make inappropriate “asks.” You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. [James 4:2-3] However, the Divine Factotum, the Specialist in Everything, Love and Truth Himself, the Holy Spirit, not only teaches us what to say but even makes “the ask” for us when we are dumbstruck before the majesty of God, or fixated on the wrong thing, or can’t figure out what we really need: In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. [Rom 8:26]  And the Donor knows “the ask” is legit: The one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. [Rom 8:27]

As the deluge of continuous mail from the same organization asking for money even when I have had no contact with it for years attests, persistence is the name of the Donor game. If one “ask” does not do it, keep at it and wear down the Donor’s resistance. Jesus illustrated this explicitly in one of my favorite parables, a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. [Lk 18:1-8]

By my persistence, I show God I’m serious, I am truly in need, His people for whom I am praying are in need, we all need His help, His grace, His mercy. Our cause is just and worthy of His assistance.

But, like Job, I am fearful of the LORD: I put my hand over my mouth. I have spoken once, I will not reply; twice, but I will do so no more. [Job 40:4-5] I know that I do not know for what I should ask: Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes. [Job 42:6] I am as fearful coming before God as Esther was coming before the King, but I desperately need God’s help: My Lord, you alone are our King. Help me, who am alone and have no help but you, for I am taking my life in my handdeliver me from my fear. [Esther Gk Version C: 14-30]

But, though His sacred word, God assures us of his love: But You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in mercy and truth. [Ps 85:15, 103:8; 145:8; James 5:11] Therefore, we pray “Father, accept this offering from your whole family. Grant us your peace in this life, save us from final damnation, and count us among those you have chosen.” [4] and “we dare to say: Our Father….”[5]


[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner. Hereafter, NABRE.

[2] God’s answer to the prayer of two or three envisages a different situation from one that involves the entire congregation. In addition, the object of this prayer is expressed in most general terms as anything for which they are to pray….For where two or three…midst of them: the presence of Jesus guarantees the efficacy of the prayer. This saying is similar to one attributed to a rabbi executed in A.D. 135 at the time of the second Jewish revolt: “…When two sit and there are between them the words of the Torah, the divine presence (Shekinah) rests upon them” (Pirqê ’Abôt 3:3). NABRE Notes on Mt 18:19-20

[3] CCC 2634

[4] Roman Missal, EP I (Roman Canon) 88. CCC 1037

[5] CCC, Pt. 4; Sect. 2, Art.2, I.

Jn 6:29: Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

[Prologue: This is a continuation of the Meditations on John’s Gospel one verse at a time.  While there is much on which to meditate, these are the center around which all the others orbit.]

Why the double “answered and said”? Either answered or said alone would have been sufficient. Is there a reason behind the author’s use of a double verb? Perhaps it is similar to Jesus frequent use of “Amen, Amen,” a device to bring attention to the importance of the words? But in this instance, it is not Jesus who is doubling up his introduction to his statement. It is the author who is doubling the narrative words. But the author is under the influence of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So, was it the intent of the Holy Spirit to draw attention to the answer? This seems to be the case. This combination is frequently used to bring attention to the pivotal statements which follow stated or implied questions:[2]

  • Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up. [Jn 2:19]
  • Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. [Jn 3:3]
  • If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. [Jn 4:10]
  • What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later. [Jn 13:7]
  • I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [Jn 14:6]

These are major teachings of Jesus on the resurrection, baptism into new life, living water, servant leadership, Himself as the Way to God, the Truth of God and the Life of God.

They are not only answers to questions. They are also statements of profound importance, not only as part of the narrative, not only to the specific individuals to who they were address when Jesus spoke them, but also, and perhaps equally, to all of us who hear them repeated years and centuries later.

This is the same here, Jesus defines the work of God that we are given: belief in Him. Here the crowd has just asked: “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?”[Jn 6:28] This is an eternal question. This was not only this crowd’s question. It is also our question today.

Jesus responds clearly, simply, precisely:“This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” This is His response then and now.

To put this in context, what had the crowd then been told they had to do to accomplish the works of God…keep the 613 Mitzvot or Commandments plus all the other “man’s laws” the Pharisees have imposed.[See Mk 7:2-15; Mt 15:1-20] No wonder Paul ranted and raved against the law: all who depend on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law”[Gal 3:10]…for the law does not depend on faith; rather, “the one who does these things will live by them.”[Gal 3:12]

Not keeping the law means sinning; Paul goes do far as to say: I did not know sin except through the lawwhen the commandment came, sin became alive; then I died, and the commandment that was for life turned out to be death for me. [Rom 7:7.9-10]

Paul realized, he experienced the undeniable fact that it is virtually impossible for anyone to perfectly keep all 613 Mitzvot and all the man’s laws. We are frail, weak, one slip and we fail, we sin. And that is the Catch 22; you have to keep them perfectly or you are cursed and die, but you can’t keep them perfectly, so inevitably you are cursed and die. The point being that it is impossible for sin-prone man to correctly fulfill all the things written in the book of the law.” Living, not being cursed, is based on doing and doing perfectly, an impossibility for imperfect man. For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.[Rom 11:32]

But Jesus says: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” With this one phrase, this one declaration, Jesus Christ ransomed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who hangs on a tree.”[Gal 3:13] The work of God, He says, is not the perfect keeping of the law; the law is to help us experience our absolute need for faith, for mercy, for forgiveness, for love. What you must do is believe in the one he sent,” believe in Me, Jesus said. Indeed, this is the reason why we have all the eye-witness reports of His miracles, that we might believe in Him: Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. [Jn 14:11]

Why the one he sent? Why did not Jesus just refer back to himself as Me? This is the ultimate mystery of the relations of Jesus as the Son with His Father, a relationship based on obedience, grounded in humility, fueled by love. Jesus refers all glory, all power, all that He himself is able to accomplish to the Father.

As Jesus explained to Nicodemus: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. [Jn 3:16-17] Here it is very clear: the work of God is the sending of the Son; my response is to believe in His Son that I might not perish but might have eternal life.

Belief in Jesus is our task on earth. No less, no more.[3]

  • It is a discerning task: See that you not be deceived; many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! [Lk 21:8]
  • It is a difficult task: If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. [Lk 9:23]
  • It is a dangerous task: But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. [Mt 10:17-18] The hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.[Jn 16:2]
  • It is a deadly task: For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. [Lk 9:24]
  • It is a dedicated task: The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.[1Jn 3:16]
  • It is a glorious task: Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. [Mt 19:29]

So I have my marching orders, simple, clear, direct. The work of God is to believe in the one He sent, Jesus, as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Such a message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith…We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God….I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. [1Cor 1:18,21,23-24; 2:2] Everything else stems from that.


[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] Matthew also uses this device [Mt 17:11; 24:4].

[3] While “no less” is the task of a lifetime, “no more” is a very bold statement. It means that such a belief in the one he sent is active, not passive. It subsumes within itself all that Jesus taught, all that He lived, all that He suffered and died for, all that He rose for, all that is the message of Jesus, the message of the Kingdom, all that Jesus meant when he said: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. [Mt 28: 19-20a] It requires a total response, a commitment, a life. This “no more” reminds one of Augustine’s audacious statement: “Love and do what you will.” [Homily 7 on 1 John 4:4-12, Sect 8. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/170207.htm%5D

Patience: Constrained Obedience

A time between the Finding in the Temple and the Baptism of Jesus demonstrates the amazing importance God puts on Patience. We are given the Finding as a Divine hint [some hints need to be a lot more heavy handed than others or we don’t seem to get the point] that Jesus was well aware of his mission way back when He was twelve. But to the Father, awareness and readiness were not the same thing. After his confrontation with his parents, Jesus gets the message. This is not what His Father wants Him to do at this time. At this time, he is to be subject to his earthly father and mother. He is under the supervision of guardians and administrators until the date set by his father. [1] [Gal 4:2]

So he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.[Lk 2:51] This was to be his boot camp in obedience. It may not have seemed that way, but think about it. If you knew you were the Son of God and were sent here to do one thing and one thing only, save humankind, don’t you think you would be chafing at the bit to get to it. Ok, maybe not when you’re a teen, but at least when you’re 20. How slowly those hidden years would have seemed to drag by. And His boot camp training wasn’t just a couple of weeks or months. It wasn’t even a couple of years. Think 18 years in the backwaters of Galilee.

And given his propensity for knowing exactly what was going to happen to him at the end and his constant references to His “Hour,” Jesus understanding of His ultimate mission was not limited by His human perception nor even by time itself. Consider what you would be like if you were literally, not just figuratively, “waiting an eternity” for something to happen. They have to put me in a padded room before the first week was up. While we are wont to compare good patience to that of Job, it was a grain of sand when compared with what Jesus had to endure.

This was ultimate Obedience, Jesus total giving of control of his life over to His Father, total subordination of His will to that of His Father. And not to His Father directly. That would have been much easier. When one in confronted with the Almighty, the LORD Jehovah, the Creator of the Universe, even Jesus, now the God-Man would be able to humanly rationalize the efficacy of letting His Father run the show. But remember, this was obedience to His human parents, to creatures of His Father, if considered from a scientific perspective, so vastly inferior to Jesus that only on the human level could there be any comparison whatsoever, and even there, major inequalities. However, this is precisely the point. This obedience to Joseph and Mary is a true demonstration of His obedience to His Father.

Think of it, 18 years out of the only earthly life of the God-Man he’ll ever have. We are tempted to think of it as such a waste; would not more years in the public ministry been a better use of Jesus time, Jesus talents, than spending them schlepping boards and bricks for His father, building houses and repairing furniture in the backwater, hick town of Nazareth, helping his mother around the house?

For the majority of Jesus life, we have no record of what He did, Salvation History gone blank…or is it? We are told that, like his cousin, John, and his ancestor, Samuel [See 1Sam 2:26], Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man. [Lk 2:51-52] Good wine needs time to age. Good people do also. We know He was not yet truly wise at twelve; though He was listening to them and asking them questions and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers, [Lk 2:46-47] the teachers thought they had a prodigy, not a Messiah, on their hands. Knowledge, even understanding and wisdom are not the same thing. With wisdom comes empathy, tact, insight not immediately evident in the facts and figures of knowledge. He may have been a Bar Mitzvah, a “Son of the Commandments,” a “man” in the Jewish community, but, in their eyes, the eyes of his family and the world, He was also still a boy, and his learning, his knowledge, needed the seasoning of life to become wisdom.

That’s where the the advancing in age, the blessing of time, the revelation of experience comes into play. Being fully man as well as God, like every other person who ever lived, only with maturation through the practical, everyday experience of family and community life, of business encounters and festival gatherings, in the drudgery of the day-to-day routine of work and life and play and prayer and friendships and love and heartaches and death and anger and sadness and acceptance and carrying on in spite of it all would wisdom and maturity be achieved.

Why favor before God and men. As his encounter with his parents in the Temple demonstrates, Jesus needed the maturity of adulthood to hone of his people skills from the abrasiveness of adolescence to the tact, temperance and perceptiveness of manhood. Only through the experience of living would He gain the human empathy and understanding needed to know them all, and…not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well. [Jn 2:24-25]

By using this knowledge as His Father directed Him, He did His Father’s will…always and everywhere in His “hidden life” until the day of his manifestation to Israel. [Lk 1:80]

Although we call it the “hidden life,” all that means is it didn’t rate minute by minute tweets, photo ops, headlines. He was not holding press conferences, nor issuing releases. He had no paparazzi, no followers. He was just the local carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon…and…his sisters. [Mk 6:3] His cloak of anonymity was so complete, His hidden identity so engrained in His neighbors, that when He later revealed His preaching and His power, He lacked so much credibility in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house,… he was not able to perform any mighty deed. [Mk 6:4-5]

But finally, His patience was rewarded: “In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [Is 49:8; 2Cor 6:2] And, just as the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert [Lk 3:2], when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son [Gal 4:4] to be baptized. It was there His patience was rewarded. It was there the Father and Holy Spirit manifested their love of Him and their recognition and commendation of the perfect humble obedience He had shown throughout His hidden life: the heavens…[were] torn open and the Spirit, like a dove,….[descended] upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” [Mk 1:10-11] The Spirit pins on the medal while the Father gives the speech.

Even then, They knew He was not quite ready. He needed his own personalized Camp Lejeune combat readiness training for the upcoming battles, and so at once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. [Mk 1:12-13]

Much of the rest of His life would be filled with this constant tension. On the one hand, He would cry out in frustration: I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! [Lk 12:49-50] On the other, even to His mother who, of all people, knew Him best, He would try to thwart her request for pity on the wedding party: “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” [Jn 2:4] Of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [Mk 13:32]

This tension between wanting it over and waiting for His Father’s Hour haunts Him throughout his public ministry. Finally, on the occasion when Greek believers wish to speak to Jesus, He finally says: The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified…though he immediately clarifies that He recognizes that this glorification will have the appearance of exactly the opposite of what the world expects: unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit….Yet what should I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But it was for this purpose that I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” [Jn 12:23-25, 27-28a] The glorification would be of His Father, for He would demonstrate with His life that love of and obedience to His Father are the most important things in the universe, more important than life itself.[2]

There are more than one “hour” occurring simultaneously, Jesus Hour of His Father’s Glory and the hour, the time for the power of darkness. [Lk 22:53] These converge and culminate as Jesus hangs on the cross between heaven and earth. It is only, after gifting His own mother to John and to us and knowing that…from that hour the disciple took her into his home.[Jn 19:27]…, only then, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” [Jn 19:28] For what did Jesus thirst: “the fourth cup which for all practical purposes is the climax of the Passover.”[3] He needed to conclude the Passover Meal, for he said: I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God. Now was the Kingdom of God established on earth for all eternity….When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished. And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” [Jn 19:30]

The patience obedience had been completed, His Father’s will had been fulfilled, His Father was glorified by His ultimate sacrifice of Jesus of Himself, His life, of everything as testimony to His Father as His God, His all, His Everything.

Et tu, Brute? And what of me? To what part of this magnificent panorama of divinely human patience can I aspire to, hope to emulate. Me, in my timidity, my weakness, my humanness, my drive to control, my intolerance of expectation, my demand for immediacy, my today-and-now impatience. On the contrary, I am the poster child of impatient disobedience. Can I change? Indeed, I am the most pitiable…of all. [1 Cor 15:19] ““Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them [and me and you] and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” [Mt 19:25-26]

Patience! We’ll get there, with God’s help. Amen. Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] A truth revalidated again and again over the centuries by the blood of martyrs, the life long vows of religious, the lives of the saints.

[3] Scott Hahn, The Fourth Cup, The Sacrament of the Eucharist, http://zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~vgg/rc/aplgtc/hahn/m4/4cp.html

Reciprocal Faithfulness

I don’t know about you, but the last line of this snippet from Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy always bothered me: This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. [2Tim 2:11-13] [1]

The first part reads like Contract 101; we do this, God does that. We have two positives with Him: if we die, we live and, if we persevere, we reign. These are followed by a negative, but still within the realm of reciprocal logic: if we deny Him, He denies us…all this Jesus had said Himself. [See Mt 24:9,13; 10:33] So far, so good. I mean, I have to die, persevere to the end and not deny Him but the reward is life eternal and reigning with Him in heaven. Tit for tat, right….?

But then we come to the final phrase in which God throws us a curve ball. Contractually, poetically and linguistically, it does not follow the nice pattern set by the others: If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself. [2Tim 2:13] God just doesn’t want to fit into our nice mold!   He is what He is and that’s that…and we can like it or lump it, it ain’t gonna change.

So what are we dealing with here? What is this faithfulness and why is it so intrinsic, so essential, to God that He cannot deny it, cannot separate His very nature from it. I mean, when we are dealing with God, we are dealing with He who is all-powerful, all-knowing, who created everything from absolutely nothing, simply by thinking and willing. I mean, He’s God, after all; “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” [Gen 18:14] We assume the phrase: “I can’t” doesn’t exist in God’s vocabulary.

Yet, in spite of fact that most mysteries with which God confronts us are resolved by being both/and, by folding one opposite into the other, by making a circle of the spectrum, e.g. Divine and human, died and lives, bread and body, there are the opposites to God’s very essence as God which, though they can be stated, like a round square, cannot be true. For example, God cannot have an end, either dimensionally or temporally. Other examples, fortunately for us, God cannot be un-loving, unjust or un-merciful; it is against his nature as God. He cannot be what He is not.

So, according to St. Paul, we have to throw faithfulness into that impossible list. According to him, God would have to deny, go against His very nature to be unfaithful. His very Being demands that He is ever faithful, that He is His Word. He not only stands by the Truth, He is Truth itself. He is unchangeable, immutable. Truth is truth, what is, what was, what will be, always and forever; you neither change nor have an end. [Ps 102:27] Thus, like it or not, it is He who keeps faith forever. [Ps 146:6]

Paul expands on this in Romans: What if some were unfaithful? Will their infidelity nullify the fidelity of God? Of course not! God must be true, though every human being is a liar, as it is written: “That you may be justified in your words, and conquer when you are judged.”[2] [Rom 3:3-4] Again, he ties it into Truth, truth in His judgment of you and me. We will judge Him, evaluate whether or not He is a God of His Word, and, in the end, we will have to concede that He always abides by the Truth, is the Truth, judges by the Truth. There is no getting around it.

So, to what is God faithful? He is faithful, He abides by, adheres to everything He ever said to me. We witness this from the beginning, from his first order: You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; when you eat from it you shall die. [Gen 2:16-17]

God does not threaten; He promises. And when He promises, He states facts. When He utters this curse: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; they will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel, [Gen 3:15] this will happen.

When Jesus’ promises: Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life, [Jn 5:24] if we listen to Him and believe in Him, we definitely, positively, will have eternal life, guaranteed. The same with all Jesus’ other statements: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. [Jn 6:54]

It is this hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began. [Titus 1:2] It is this to which The LORD is righteous [just/lawful] in all his ways, and faithful [truthful] in all his works. [Ps 145:17]

I mean, let’s face it: Is God one to speak and not act, to decree and not bring it to pass? [Num 23:19] If He is, then we’re in BIG trouble. But, the testimony of witnesses throughout the whole of Salvation History adamantly shout: “NO WAY!” Even creation itself, by the fact that He brought it into being, sustains it, nourishes it, encourages it to flourish, even creation declares with every wisp of cloud and bellow of bull, “NO WAY!”

God, in Jesus, is not only a “man of His Word,” but the Father is a God of His Word. So You, God, not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Your Word surrounds us with reality. You both tell us in what we are to believe, but also You are Him in whom we are to believe. The author of Hebrews stated: Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen[3]. [Heb 11:1] You are the substance, the Being, the Reality we hope for. You provide creation as Your own proof, though unseen. You say to us: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound, [1Kgs 19:11-12] mysterious, ungraspable, contradictory, a both/and: a silent sound, before whom we, like Elijah must hide our faces in our cloaks and go out and stand at the entrance of the cave of the world before You, LORD. [See 1Kgs 19:13]

In turn, You call me to walk the walk, to walk by faith, not by sight.[2Cor 5:7] But you know me! you know when I sit and stand; you understand my thoughts from afar….with all my ways you are familiar. Even before a word is on my tongue, LORD, you know it all.[Ps 139:2-4] That’s what makes me afraid. You know my vacillating commitment to You, God! On and off…hot and cold…Yes and no. I turn my will and my life over to You because I know that I am addicted to control and that You are in charge and have a plan for me and care for me and love me and want me to be with You and reach my greatest happiness…but in the next breath, I grab control back and go off and do what I want to do, when I want to do it, joining Sinatra in the chorus, belting out to the top of my lungs: “I’ll do it my way!”

That’s, of course, until I, like the Apostles get caught in the storms of life, so that my boat was being swamped by waves. I can’t believe You’re there, just calmly sleeping while I see the world is going to hell in a hand basket. I scream to the top of my lungs: “Lord, save me! I’m perishing!”

And what happens? You save me, and You rebuke me: Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? [Mt 8:24-26] What gives? Can’t You see I was frightened out of my wits? …But perhaps that is the very point. You do see that I was scared and You know, not just believe but know, that it is not necessary. You empathize with the adrenalin rush, the tax on my heart. You want me to know that the Father is always in charge, always knows what He is doing, always has my best interests at heart, always, always, always loves me with an unconditional love, the same love with which He loves the rest of the chaotic world and He would never, ever let anything happen to me or anybody else on the face of the earth, of which he was not aware, not caring, not concerned, not going to bring to a blessed conclusion.

You even tell us later that we can do it all: I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. [Mt 17:20]

Ok, ok, I hear you, unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm. [Is 7:9] You reassure me that You are faithful and will not let…[me] be tried beyond…[my] strength; but with the trial…[You] will also provide a way out, so that…[I] may be able to bear it. [1Cor 10:13] You assure us that we can hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trustworthy. [Heb 10:23]

It isn’t easy…we are dealing with evidence of things unseen. [Heb 11:1] The same with hope: in hope we were saved. Now hope that sees for itself is not hope….But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.[Rom 8:24-25] However, You know our weakness, our frailty, our finitude. You have given us a reason, proof of why we should believe: since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.[Heb 4:14] You gave us the rock on which the Church is built, and all the storms and violence and evil that Hell itself can throw against it will not budge it. [Mt 16:18] It is on this rock I will build my house, my faith, and I will listen to Your words and act on them and the rains will fall, the floods come, the winds blow and will try to tear my house down But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on the rock.[Mt 7:24-25] For me, the Lord will be my stronghold; my God will be the rock where I take refuge. [Ps 94:22] “Though storms may pound the securities and loves of our lives, we will not be vanquished. We will triumph through a reciprocal faithfulness.[4]

“Lord, we pray for the grace to feel your presence through our thoughts, circumstances, and moments of love that weave in and out of our day. We know that more times than not, the “feeling” is transitory. And that’s okay…Our life meaning is not advanced by a feeling, but it is anchored in the guarantee of your personal care for every aspect of our lives. To this claim we cling..[5]

“We will triumph through you being there for us and we being there for you.”[6]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] This echoes Ps 51: For I know my transgressions; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your eyes so that you are just in your word, and without reproach in your judgment. Behold, I was born in guilt, in sin my mother conceived me. [Ps 51:5-7]

[3] Faith is the realization…evidence: the author is not attempting a precise definition. There is dispute about the meaning of the Greek words hypostasis and elenchos, here translated realization and evidence, respectively. Hypostasis usually means “substance,” “being” (as translated in Heb 1:3), or “reality” (as translated in Heb 3:14); here it connotes something more subjective, and so realization has been chosen rather than “assurance” (RSV). Elenchos, usually “proof,” is used here in an objective sense and so translated evidence rather than the transferred sense of “(inner) conviction” (RSV). [NABRE note on Heb 11:1] (inner) conviction” (RSV).

[4] The Jesuit Prayer Team, Daily Inspiration: Mk 6: 30-34, JesuitPrayer.org July 19, 2015bid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

Why One? Commentary on Eph 4: 1-6

Why One? A challenging question. Intuitively, mystics from all religions have come to the realization of our oneness with God, each other and creation. Does this mean we are somehow absorbed in a single amorphous entity and loose our identity? Obviously not. Nor are we God. Very obviously not.

But neither are we isolated, without relationships; we are members of various communities from the human race to our families and friendships. We are one humanity. We are dependent on one another from our conception, birth, and nurturing to our familial and social relationships. We become one body with our spouse [Gen 2:24;Mk 10:8] and form one family unit. Thus, we are faced with that continuously reoccurring phenomenon of both/and; the answer is that I am both me and simultaneously one with others.

As this stemmed from the reading: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to reserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.[1] [Eph 4:1-6] we’ll start there.

In looking at the reading, the rational reasons for oneness are start with the last [whereas the intuitive insight, as Paul states it, starts with the first.].

One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Our oneness begins with God, who is one, who is Creator of all, and is the one and only Father of the one family He created [which, when viewed this way, includes all creation, angels and men, spiritual and material]. Thus, He is certainly over all. And since He is all that is, oneness also stems from not only our being created in the image and likeness of God [Gen 1:26, 27] but everything else being a reflection of the One who is one. But He is also in all, continually creating and sustaining all being; He is existence itself. Finally, it is though all being, facets of His image and continuing creation that He makes Himself known: Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. [Rom 1:20]

One Lord, one faith, one baptism

Here I have to make the leap of faith that the Jews had to do with Jesus, from the One God to Jesus as One with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, the only begotten Son. I have to recognize Him and accept Him as the Messiah. He is Our One Lord, the same for you, for me, for everybody. In believing in Him, we share one Faith; “It follows that all men and women who are saved share, though differently, in the same mystery of salvation in Jesus Christ through his Spirit.”[2] And there is one Baptism, though in the forms of water, of blood, and of desire: “For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.”[3]

As you were also called to the one hope of your call

Israel’s hope rested in Yahweh: My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope. [Ps 62:6], it is realized in Jesus life, death and especially his resurrection: the hope of eternal life that God, who does not lie, promised before time began. [Titus 1:2] As Paul explains elsewhere: But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. [Titus 3:4-7] It is to this salvation that we have been called through the preaching of the Good News: God chose you as the firstfruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in truth. To this end he has [also] called you through our gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. [2Thes 2:13-14]

One body and one Spirit

There is but one Spirit of God, one Holy Spirit. He who hovered over the waters during the creation is the same as He who lead the Israelites out of Egypt with a cloud and fire; who caused prophetic ecstasy in David, who came upon Mary, who filled Elizabeth, who inspired Simeon, who appeared as a Dove, who drove Jesus into the desert to be tempted, who blows where he wills, who appeared as a cloud, whom Jesus promised to send as our Advocate, whom Jesus breathed upon the Apostles, who came as wind and tongues of fire on Pentecost, who fell upon Cornelius and his household, who convicts the world of sin and righteousness and condemnation, who gives life and who has given different gifts to each one of us….why, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ. [Eph 4:12-13] For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. [Rom 12:4-5]

striving to reserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace

This unity, this oneness, was not lightly purchased. It took the Son of God to show us that we are one in Him, that He is our one and only Savior, that He suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God [1Pet 3:18] and that if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep. [1Thes 4:14]

We retain this faith, this belief, as one Body, one Church. Contrary to what we witness in our Christian Community, all believing their own interpretation of Christ’s message and claiming that their interpretation is the true faith, they cannot all be right. There is only one church that has all the elements of the faith in it, the one, holy, catholic and Apostolic Church, which possesses both the Scripture and Tradition since the beginning, which has one valid priesthood under bishops who trace their line back to Peter and the Apostles, which has seven cherished sacraments, which had the true Eucharist, the true presence in every tabernacle throughout the world and which can unequivocally claim to preach the truth as guaranteed by the unity of the spirit.

This unity was not only not lightly purchased by God, it is also not easily preserved by us, claiming the blood of martyrs, witnesses to validate its claims, insisting on belief in things unseen alluded to in written Scripture and mandating adherence to moral rectitude that the world deems ludicrous, stifling and archaic.

bearing with one another through love

As pointed out above, though the origin of our oneness is the family of God, this familial, brotherly and sisterly bond is constantly being tested, torn, ripped, shredded, violated through sin. By refusing to obey our one Father, we rebel against our very essence, our image and likeness, just as our first parents did. And we alienate ourselves from the rest of the family, our sisters and brothers in God, in Christ, in the human/divine family.

These ruptures, rivalry, jealousy, fury, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. [2Cor 12:20], these self-inflicted wounds, can only be healed through forgiveness. Even within our own community, there are disagreements, strife, contentions, and the bond of peace must constantly be striven for, purchased daily only at the cost of patience, understanding, acceptance and love, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things. [1Cor 13:7]

with all humility and gentleness, with patience

In this passage, Paul outlines how Love is manifested in oneness: patience, humility, gentleness. Patience harkens back to bearing with one another, enduring all things. Patience comes from the same Latin root as passion, “to suffer, to endure.” Oneness requires a huge amount of patience on the part of each of us, of passion in both senses of that word, the fire of love enabling one to endure and to suffer the other. For life with the other is not a bed of roses, there will be misunderstandings, conflicts, confusion, rivalries, disagreements, anger, tempers. Love suffers, endures through, beyond and above all of these.

How does one take up that Cross, the other, and suffer in patience. By realizing one’s littleness and the continual unveiling of God’s providence. By humility, being precisely whom God made us to be, no less but no more. And by gentleness, by imitating God’s mercy and care of me, and doing to the other as was done to me by God.

live in a manner worthy of the call you have received

By do this, by love, patience, gentleness, humility, we will indeed live in a manner worthy of the call of God, not just to our baptism into the one faith, the one Church, the one Body of Christ, the one Spirit, but that vocation, that calling to be one with the One Lord, to be a temple of the Father, to be Christ’s hands, Christ’s feet, Christ’s voice, Christ’s touch in my unique and inimitable way, and to support and encourage you to be His hands, His feet, His voice, His touch, in your special way. For only by all of us being Christ each in our own way can we hope together with our head, to be one with Christ as He is.


Oneness in Scripture

From God’s point of view:

  • One God: Yhwh: I am who I am. [Ex 3:14]
  • One Father of all: The LORD is our God, the LORD alone: other possible translations are “the Lord our God is one Lord”; “the Lord our God, the Lord is one”; “the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. [4] [Deut 6:4]
  • One Source and Creator of all being, yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom all things are and for whom we exist. [1Cor 8:6]
  • One Son: one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things are and through whom we exist. [1Cor 8:6]
  • One Savior and Redeemer of all: For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. [1Tim 2:5] And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself. [Jn 12:32]
  • One Spirit For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. [1Cor 12:13]
  • One Way, one Truth, one Life: I am the way and the truthand the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. [Jn 14:6]
  • One Love of all: God is love…In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. [1Jn 4:8b,10]
  • One Providence: We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. [Rom 8:28]
  • One Plan of Salvation for all This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. [1Tim 2:3-4]
  • One Body: We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another [Rom 12:5]
  • One Faith …everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life [Jn 3:16
  • One Spirit, many Gifts: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; [1Cor 12:4]
  • One Lord, different service: there are different forms of service but the same Lord; [1Cor 12:5]
  • One God, different effects/manifestations of power: there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. [1Cor 12:6]
  • Father is in the Son; the Son in the Father: Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. [Jn 14:10,11]

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell in me, in you; They are one with us and we, through Them, with each other.

  • The Father and the Son will live in me: Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. [Jn 14:23]
  • The Spirit in You: the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it….remains with you, and will be in you. [Jn 14:17]
  • I am in Jesus, Jesus is in me: On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. [Jn 14:20]
  • We are one with and in the Father and Jesus: they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. [Jn 17:21]

We are “brought to perfection as one” in Christ

  • We are brought to perfection as one: And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. [Jn 17:22-23]
  • Unity of mind, love, heart, thinking: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. [Phil 2:1-2]
  • Think in harmony and praise with one voice: May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [Rom 15:5-6]
  • Be of the same mind and purpose: I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. [1Cor 1:10]
  • Christ is one: For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. I mean that each of you is saying, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? [1Cor 1:11-13]
  • We are one in Christ: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. [Gal 3:28]
  • We have the same Lord: For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, enriching all who call upon him. [Rom 10:12]
  • We all have the same Spirit: For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. [1Cor 12:13]
  • Christ is all and in all: Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all. [Col 3:11]

We are all one Body

  • We are all one body: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also ChristNow you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. [1Cor 12:12,27] Col 1:18, 24.
  • Christ is head of the body, the Church: He is the head of the body, the church. [Col 1:18]
  • We are one body and individually parts of one another: For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another. [Rom 12:4-5]
  • Together as one body, we support one another and the Church grows: Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love. [Eph 4:15-16]
  • The peace of perfection comes from being one: And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. [Col 3:15]
  • Different ministries but unity of faith and knowledge: And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ. [Eph 4:11-13]
  • Without unity and maturity of faith and knowledge, we are individual infants: infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming. [Eph 4:14]
  • If we go off on our own, we are not connected with Christ in his body: Let no one disqualify you, delighting in self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, inflated without reason by his fleshly mind, and not holding closely to the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and bonds, achieves the growth that comes from God. [Col 2:18-19]

We are one because we all receive the same Jesus

  • The loaf is one; Jesus is one; we are one: Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf. [1Cor 10:17]

Jesus is one with my neighbor.

  • The criteria of our judgment: ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ [Mt 25:40]
  • Jesus identifies himself with the persecuted: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. [Acts 9:4-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-15]
  • The Second Great Commandment: For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Gal 5:14; see Lev 19:18; Mt 19:19; 22:39; Mk 12:31; Lk 10:27; Rom 13:9; Jas 2:8]

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

[2] Pontifical Council For Inter-Religious Dialogue And The Congregation For The Evangelization Of Peoples, Instruction Dialogue and Proclamation, 29: AAS 84 (1992), 424.

[3] Vatican II, Pope Paul VI, Pastoral Constitution On The Church In The Modern World, Gaudium Et Spes, December 7, 1965, Vatican, History of the Councils, Vatican II, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html, No. 22.

[4]NABRE note on Deut 6:4.