Message: Jesus wants you and I to share his conversation, his relationship with the Father. That's why he came.
In a crowded restaurant a man, perhaps in his late forties, is having lunch with a college age youth. Because the other tables are near, the two men are talking softly. The restaurant gradually becomes quieter and quieter until the two men are the only ones talking. The people are not being rude, but curiosity has overtaken them. They want to hear what that father and son are saying to each other.
In recent weeks Jesus has given us an opportunity to listen to some of the conversation between him and his Father. He says things like, "I thank you Father." "I know you always hear me." And, "you in me and I in you." We are hearing (or overhearing) something extremely important: A conversation that began long ago - before the Big Bang. Or to put it another way: the conversation from which the Big Bang emerged.*
This Sunday Jesus invites us into that that conversation. He tells us that the reason he came is so that we can enter that relationship. The relationship begins at baptism - when we receive the Holy Spirit - but it reaches its high point in what we are doing right now: the Mass.
Let me try to explain. Have you noticed how the priest lifts up the paten and the chalice? In one hand he holds the bread - the Body of Christ. The chalice contains Jesus' Precious Blood. When blood separates from the body you have death. Jesus died for us on the cross to bring forgiveness of our sins, to reconcile us with the Father.
Something else happens when you separate blood from the body. Before death a person experiences great thirst. You may have read about battles, maybe our own Civil War. The soldiers, wounded on the battlefield, begged for water. When Jesus hung on the cross, he cried, "I thirst." He had a physical thirst for water, but he had a deeper thirst - for your soul and mine. That's how much Jesus wants to take you and me into the conversation between him and his Father. That is why he came. As we heard today:
"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."
This happens at Mass. When I hold up the Body and Blood of Jesus, I might be off-key, I might be distracted and I am certainly unworthy to lift up the Holy One. But none of that greatly matters because it is Jesus who invites you - and me. He thirsts for you and me. He wants us to be part of his eternal relationship with the Father.
If Jesus invites you and me, then there's something we need to do: Invite someone else. I recently read a helpful book on how we can invite others. The book is called "Rebuilt." I encourage you to get the book and read it, but I would like to give a brief quote: "Many Catholics no longer believe in the reality of hell, so what difference does it make if someone knows Christ?" Then the authors add, "No matter that some people's lives are a living hell right now."**
Exactly. Christ has come to save us from hell and to bring us into an eternal relationship with the Father - by the Holy Spirit. Today Jesus calls the Holy Spirit "the Advocate." An advocate is a defense attorney. The devil is constantly accusing us, telling us we are no good, we may as well give up. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, defends us. If I were going to a trial, I would want a good lawyer, maybe Johnny Cochran. :) Well, Jesus gives us the best Advocate of all - the Holy Spirit.
So, says Jesus, "do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." He wants you and I to share his conversation, his relationship with the Father. That's why he came. That's why he gave his life. He thirsts for our salvation. And wants us to invite other. "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." Amen.
*We take time and space for granted, as if they always existed. But that is not the case. God invented the temporal spatial order. He is not bound by that order, but he freely entered into it so he could bring us to himself. He is both author and lead actor of the drama.
**If people automatically went to heaven, the cross would be absurd. For that matter, why would God allow all the suffering of our lives if nothing were at stake? On the other hand, if we are creatures with free will who have abused our ability to love, then those sufferings are not absurd - even if they often do appear so when we and others are going through them. The best works on this issue are Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis and Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky. The first provides an intellectual response, the second a gut-wrenching response to a gut-wrenching reality.
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