Summary: But there’s more to Christian life. Much more. It’s a series of challenges and privileges that come to us with our existence in human society. We model our love for other human beings on the love God has for us.
Seventh Sunday of Easter
The prophet Isaiah said it several hundred years before Jesus was born: “My thoughts are not your thoughts. Your ways are not my ways.” Our psalm says it in another way: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has [God] put our transgressions from us.” God is not just like a really big, powerful human. That’s a false god, like Hercules or Apollo. No, God is being; God is love. God is so different from us that He can literally be three persons in one divine nature. And is exactly that. Moreover, God’s love for us is unimaginable, because He loved us to His own detriment. He loved us all the way to the death of His Son, Jesus. But that death was the critical event in our salvation, because it released His divine power to destroy the power of Satan and of death. By latching on to Jesus Christ, through our baptism in faith, we become like Christ. We put on Christ and are able to look at our death as an entry into everlasting communion with God.
But there’s more to Christian life. Much more. It’s a series of challenges and privileges that come to us with our existence in human society. We model our love for other human beings on the love God has for us. By loving others, even to the sacrifice of our honor, our possessions, our time, our convenience, we enable God to bring His love to perfection, to completion in us. And that means we should want to work to bring everyone we meet to a knowledge and love of the Blessed Trinity and of the Church left for our sanctification.
In His high priestly prayer, uttered to the Father at the Last Supper before Christ went into the garden, to His arrest and suffering and death, He emphasized the priorities of His life. He wanted us to be one, to be unified and in communion with God and each other. The Father and Son are indeed one nature, but they are bound together as one God in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is that love that binds the Trinity so tightly that whatever one Person does is assigned also to the other two Divine Persons.
Thus, whenever a good work is done by a member of the Church, the world sees it as done by every member of the Church. They’d say “Oh, the Catholics did that.” And it’s the same if one member does something wrong. “Oh, the Catholics did that.” This is one reason why we have to adhere to the same moral code, the moral code of love given by Jesus. Let me give an example. There are Catholics in high government office who vote for and fund the murder of innocent human beings before they are born. And they take communion. Nobody stops them. Unbelievers will be tempted to call all members of the Church hypocrites because of actions like this.
Providentially, Our Lord has ways to correct and admonish. Those abortion-supporting members of the Church can’t complain that they don’t understand the Church’s position, because people are shouting it at them all the time. They even defend themselves against such words–and do it rather badly. If they end up in the hottest place after they die, they can’t complain that they did it out of ignorance. Nor can any of the rest of us Christians. We know when we are doing right and wrong.
Let’s now consider our first reading as an example of the Church working in love. Judas removed himself from the community of disciples, from his leadership position. There was a big hole in the leadership. So Peter, as head of the group, got up and used scripture to argue for him to be replaced by someone who had been a disciple from the time John the Baptist was ministering at the Jordan. They prayed, and probably fasted, asking for guidance from the Holy Spirit. And look at the two men that they considered. Nothing is said about this guy, Matthias. But Joseph had quite a resume. He was surnamed Barsabbas, which I think means “son of engagement.” He was committed to the cause. He was also called “Justus,” which means “the righteous one.” So he was active and he was working on becoming holy. So their prayer gave them the background to draw a name from the hat, and the guy with no resume was the choice of the Holy Spirit.
Huh? That doesn’t make sense to us, does it? But God was always doing that. He chose another Joseph, son of Jacob, and undoubtedly the most arrogant and boastful of the sons of that patriarch, to go down to Egypt to prepare for the famine that forged the people of Israel into a true community of faith. He passed over all of the really qualified sons of Jesse when He chose the shepherd David to replace King Saul. God is constantly ignoring the obvious choice when sending missionaries. Moses, as a final example, was chosen as God’s instrument when he had a severe speech impediment. God’s ways are not our ways.