Diaconate – Much to be done.
Mother’s Day – A lesson from Mom.
One of the themes to today’s readings and Gospel is that we cannot do this alone. The establishment of the diaconate was for the apostles to be able to concentrate on their most important work (evangelizing and teaching) and not having to do everything themselves. In 1 Peter, we hear Peter describing Jesus as the cornerstone of the Church (people) and of our faith. Through our common faith, we have Church, really, we ARE CHURCH, because Our Lord did not want us to take our spiritual journey all alone.
But I’d like to focus on three things Jesus tells us in the Gospel today that we really need to digest, that demonstrate that we really are not alone.
One, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Here we’re in John Chapter 14, before the passion and resurrection, Jesus is telling the disciples to not let their hearts be troubled as things were about to change dramatically. We’re reminded of this today, after Easter, because in our journey things will change, sometimes dramatically, and there will be many times when things will get difficult. Jesus wants us to know “He’s got this, we are not alone.” One of the most difficult things we face in our relationship with Jesus is letting go and trusting in Him completely. Our hearts can be troubled with many things, the stresses of paying the bills, the stresses of holding down a job, the stresses of family life, and we may find ourselves tempted to wonder where God is as we seemingly face of our troubles alone. Jesus reminds us that He goes to prepare a place for us, and He tells the disciples this, because He wants them and us to realize that our focus should be on our eternity, the certain future of our life in heaven if we allow Jesus to be the center of our lives. No matter what we may face, Our Lord is there for us, He never leaves us, and wants us to know that the temporary troubles of this world are something we’ll leave far behind when we reach the glory of heaven. “Having faith does not mean having no difficulties, but having the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone.” -Pope Francis
Two, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” Jesus as “the way”, gives us direction. In the resurrection, we see our future. Our future can only be a reality if we fully commit to following Jesus, to being a “complete disciple” and finding that “way.” That “way” is our direction to heaven and eternal life. In that “way” we find the truth. Certainly, we realize God is the source of all truth. One of Jesus’ main missions was to bring that truth to us in a form we could understand. If we look back at the problem of the Pharisees and the Sadducees’, it wasn’t that they weren’t doing what God wanted them to do in the law, they were very good at carrying out all that the law commanded, the problem was, their hearts were disconnected from God, from truth, and ultimately from love. The truth Jesus so dearly wants us to realize is how much we are loved. And when we choose to enter into the love of God, we can then see as God does and this changes our perspective. We don’t just see the world and others as something to be used for our pleasure or satisfaction, we see the world as created by God, and we see others as children of God fully deserving of our love. And when we come in contact with the love of God, here is where we find our life. In my six years of being a Deacon, I’ve experienced great highs, like knowing I’m loved and appreciated by my parish, and I’ve experienced tremendous lows, like sitting in a four by six cell trying to give hope to a young man facing a prison term of many years. One common theme of all my experiences is that the love of God was with me every step of the way, helping to keep me grounded during the highs, and not be overwhelmed during the lows. It’s those highs and lows, the “roller coaster of life” if you will, that makes this life worth living. Knowing Jesus as the way, leading to the truth, which gives us that full life is what makes all the difference, is what makes this life worth living. Again, we were meant to live in relationship, we were not meant to be alone.
Three, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do and even greater ones that these.” When we think of miracles, very often we go right to Jesus walking on water or feeding 5000, and those are great, great miracles, not to mention how many other miraculous works Jesus did in his time here on earth. It’s our human nature, we’re drawn to the spectacular. But we fail to see the miraculous going on around us every day, those miracles performed by mothers and other people that make extraordinary efforts to take care of others. Someone who works hard at her job all day and then comes home and cares enough to make the extra effort to make a nutritious dinner for her family, that’s miraculous. Someone who does her best to maintain a nice home for her family but finds the time to run her children to sports, or dance, or karate, or play dates, for what might seem like the 100th night in a row, that’s miraculous. Someone who, no matter how stressful her day has been, still finds the energy and takes a few precious moments to pray and read a bedtime story to her children, that’s miraculous. These are “greater” works that Jesus spoke of because when we live in love, we can go beyond our human capabilities and perform miraculous acts. And it’s through these loving acts, the kingdom of heaven comes here to earth, we give others the experience of the risen Jesus and we let others know that they are not alone.
None of us entered this world alone. In God’s act of creation, we obviously need our fathers and our mothers. That in and of itself is a sign that we were created to be a people who live in common. So today, as we recognize our mothers, let’s be sure to thank them (if you can), thank God for them, and take a moment to remember all the things they did for us, and the lessons they taught us. We are not alone, we never were alone, and with the love of Jesus, we never will be alone.