Monday, November 30, 2015

The Rest is just Icing on the Cake

Back when my daughter was much younger she stayed at home with me during the day.  We would work on learning the things she needed to know for school.  My mother had bought us these wonderful little math and reading flash cards and we would use those.  We would also go over very simple things about God and the bible.   I was trying to prepare her for her life of learning, both in the secular world of public education and in the religious world of C.C.D.  There were times she'd get what I would say, and other times I wasn't sure she was learning, especially when it came to things like who God was, the Holy Spirit, Jesus, and the trinity.  How do you explain such difficult concepts to someone who is 4 years old?

I still did my best and we would talk plainly and simply about God.  As her math skills improved, her letter recognition and even simple reading began to flourish as well.  One day she was laying on the floor looking up through the skylight at the sky.  She sat scrunching up her face like she was trying to figure something out. 

"What are you thinking about?", I asked.

"Thinking about the Holy Ghost."

"ah, what about him?"

"That cloud looks like him."

"How so?"

"Well, it looks like Jesus, but he has on a costume like the Holy Spirit."

It's a simple analogy, and imperfect in many ways.  But she was getting it!  She knew that they were both God.. but they were different people, different looking, but the same substance.   I was so excited!  She was learning!  How beautiful that is for a parent to watch their child begin to wrestle with difficult, and even abstract concepts, and start to grasp them for the first time.

In the Gospel for tomorrow I feel that is why Jesus is rejoicing.  Seventy of his missionaries have just returned filled with excitement at the success of their mission.  "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!"   How amazing that must be?  How powerful and exciting to see the Lord move through miracles that make his presence evident in the world.  Yet, Jesus reminds them that it isn't these loud showy things that they should be excited about, but their salvation.  How often is it that we want that though?  We want the flash.  We want the bang.   We want to see the mountains move.  We want the fourth of July.  Jesus wants to give us Easter though.  As Elijah found on the top of the mountain, God wasn't in the lightning.  He wasn't in the earth quake.  Not in the thunder or the flame.  He was in the stillness, in the quite whispering wind of the Spirit.

Notice that phrase at the start of the Gospel?  Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit. That's what we should be asking to do as well.  That's the beauty of having the Holy Spirit in our lives.  We don't need the flashy.  We don't need the speaking in tongues, or the shouting Amen, though these things can be beautiful if done correctly.   We don't need the falling out in the spirit, or the miraculous healings, though those too are beautiful and wonderful.  Rather we rejoice in just being filled with God.  Just his presence in our hearts gives us joy.  All the rest is just icing on the cake. 

The disciples got to see something that the Prophets and Kings of old desired to see.  They got to see the Kingdom of God before them, the Messiah standing in their presence.  For centuries the people of God had been longing for this moment, to come face to face with God made man.  Many didn't see him.  Many ignored him, or thought him to not be doing the right things.  The simple, trusting disciples were the ones who saw all of this come to pass.  They got to see Christ.  They got to see God and live. 

What about you?  Jesus says to us today as well, "do not rejoice in these miracles; but rather rejoice that your names are written in Heaven."  Again, he says "I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it."  Do you realize how blessed you are?  You get to see the risen Lord in the Eucharist every day you choose to do so.  Do you rejoice?  Or do you desire rather the flashy, explosive things.   Pray to the Holy Spirit that you too will rejoice in Christ's presence in your life.  That you will be filled with joy, not seeking the explosive manifestations of the spirit that sparkle and shine in the sky like the fourth of July.. but rather Easter.  That transformation that brings you from death to life.  If the explosions come?  Then rejoice.  If not?  Rejoice. 

Everlasting life is a more astounding miracle than anything we might see here in this world.   Rejoice!

His servant and yours,