Monday, October 28, 2013

“A Christian community should do as Jesus did: propose and not impose. Its attraction must lie in the radiance cast by the love of brothers.”

“Community is a sign that love is possible in a materialistic world where people so often either ignore or fight each other. It is a sign that we don't need a lot of money to be happy--in fact, the opposite.” ― Jean Vanier (Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian, and humanitarian)

Scripture Text: (EPH 2:19-22)
Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

In Ephesians we are told that we are a part of the Christian family. Then in the Gospel today at Mass (Luke 6:12-16) Jesus calls his disciples, including Simon and Jude whose feast we celebrate today. We must come to realize that we are part of this family too, the communion of saints in heaven. We are all called with them. We are called to join our voices with the rest who declare the glory of God in the psalms. We are all part of the big family of creation, and we are part of the smaller Christian family called by Jesus.

An interesting legend is told about St. Jude, the well-known saint of the impossible. The story is that a king in ancient Turkey suffered from a terrible disease. He heard about Jesus and wrote him a letter, asking for a cure. Along with his letter, he sent an artist to paint Jesus’ face. Since Jesus couldn’t go to the king, he sent Jude, along with the artist’s painting. Through this image and through Jude’s prayers, the king was healed. That’s why images of Jude depict him holding a painting of the face of Christ.

This legend tells us something important about Jude and about all the saints. They really don’t heal anybody. In the story, the image of Jesus was key to this man’s healing. All the power that the saints have ever had to heal comes from the Lord: “It was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured… . By his stripes we were healed” (Isaiah 53:4, 5). Jesus is our healer, our comforter, our Savior.

But this legend illustrates another important point: Jesus needs saints. Jude was just a man like us, a sinner who was redeemed by the Lord. But God used him to bring healing and hope to thousands of people—and he still does today, centuries after his death! Jude shows us that we carry in our hearts the treasure of the Holy Spirit, who gives us the power to transform the world in God’s image. He shows us that we can become saints, just as he did.

We have been called. This is our dwelling place. This is our home, and we are part of creation. In fact, we are creation. And this Christian family is created by our connection and our faith. We are participants. We are citizens. We are part of this family, members of the household. We are not strangers. We belong here. I like this image of a household, a family. We are all in this together and all share responsibility in the household. We are not strangers; this is our dwelling place, where we live. But we also can’t depend on someone else to do everything for us; we have to take responsibility for our part of the smooth running of the household. We are not guests, we live here. This is our home and our responsibility.

Like the disciples, we are called to follow. Like the rest of creation, we are called to declare the glory of God. And through our faith and praise and our connection with each other, we create a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.

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