The following is a transcript of my homily delivered 18 May 2014. The audio recording was unfortunately not available. Peace and Joy. ~Fr. Joel
Today’s Gospel shows us why Christianity is not like all the other world religions. The Buddah and all the other great religious leaders claimed to know the way. Jesus does not claim to know the way — He says, “I am the Way.” Muhammed and the other great religious founders claimed to teach the truth. Jesus does not claim to teach the truth — He says, “I am the Truth.” All religious founders claim to have found more abundant life. Jesus does not simply offer life — He says, “I am the life.” What could possibly justify such grandiose claims?
Jesus is not just another founder of a religion. He is the only-begotten Son of the Almighty God. This relationship between the Son and the Father gives Jesus everything. Jesus is fundamentally poor because He owns nothing. Everything He has is a gift from his Father. He defines himself as the Son; His identity flows from this relationship. His mission is to be the Father’s Son. He says that he only teaches what he knows from the Father, and He only does the works of his Father. He is so intimately united that He can say, “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.”
Why does this matter to us? Jesus offers us the same gift of relationship. He says that if we keep His commandments, we will enter into the same kind of relationship with God that Jesus has: “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you a re in me and I in you.” (John 14:20). Your baptism is also known as Christening. You have been “Christ-ened” — made into a little Christ. God offers His love in such a powerful way that we can be in Him and He in us. We can say, in a way, that we have become Jesus Christ. Notice, however, that this isn’t something we have on our own. It flows from God as a gift to us. We are Sons only in as much as we life out of our relationship with the Father.
Jesus tells us, “…whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these…” How can we do greater works then Jesus? The same way Jesus did His works: through the power of the Father that flows in us. Mother Theresa helped more poor people than Jesus did. Was she better than Jesus? No, it was Jesus working in her to help the poor. St. John Paul II was seen in person by more people than anyone else in history. He preached to more people and inspired more people than Jesus did. Was he better than Jesus? No, it was the power of Jesus working in Him.
In our first reading we see a parish community that is dealing with complaints. They respond by calling forth members of their community to be Deacons. God has already given men with the gifts to answer the need, but the community must call them forth. When was the last time our community called forth a man to serve as Deacon? When was the last time our community called forth a man to serve as Priest? How about all the other gifts the Church needs — God has already given them to you and me. God wants to work in you and through you with no less power than he did in Mother Theresa or St. John Paul.
Just like Jesus’ mission flows from his relationship with the Father, so our mission must flow from our relationship with God. Only God can reveal who you truly are, because only God knows you from the inside out. The Church needs your gifts. Live out of your relationship with God and you will discover who you are: a Child of the Father.