Friday, April 25, 2014

Jesus will save the Church

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
April 27, 2014

John 20:19-31

Terrified by Jesus' execution, the disciples take refuge in a known home. They're together again, but Jesus isn't with them. There's a gap in the community that no one can fill. They need Jesus. Who will they follow now? What will they be able to do without him? "It's getting dark" in Jerusalem and also in the disciples' hearts.

They're in the house "with the doors locked." It's a community without a mission and without a vision, shut in on itself, without the ability to welcome. No one is thinking now about going along the roads proclaiming the kingdom of God and healing life. With the doors locked, it's not possible to draw near to the people's suffering.

The disciples are full of "fear of the Jews." It's a community paralyzed by fear, in a defensive posture. They only see hostility and rejection on all sides. With fear, it isn't possible to love the world as Jesus loved it, or instill encouragement and hope in anybody.

Suddenly, the risen Jesus takes the initiative. He comes to rescue his followers. "He came in and stood in their midst." The small community begins to be transformed. They go from fear to the peace that Jesus instills in them. From the darkness of the night, they go to the joy of seeing him again full of life. From locked doors, they will soon move to the openness of the mission.

Jesus talks to them, putting all his trust in those poor men and women, "As the Father has sent me, so I send you." He doesn't tell them whom they are to approach, what they are to proclaim, or how they are to act. They've already been able to learn it from him along the roads of Galilee. They will be in the world what he was.

Jesus knows the fragility of his disciples. He has often criticized their little and wavering faith. They need the strength of his Spirit to fulfill his mission. So he makes a special gesture towards them. He doesn't lay hands on them or bless them like the sick. He breathes on them and says, "Receive the Holy Spirit."

Only Jesus will save the Church. Only he will free us from the fears that paralyze us, break the boring patterns in which we aim to enclose him, open the many doors we have been closing over the centuries, make straight the many paths that have led us away from him.

What we are being asked to do is to reawaken much more in the whole Church trust in the risen Jesus, mobilize ourselves to put him fearlessly at the center of our parishes and communities, and focus all our strength on listening well to what his Spirit is saying to us, his followers, today.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent analysis of the awesome immediate impact of Jesus Christ on the Church. They already knew what to do, just were afraid to do it. Quickly after this encouragement by Christ, they did as recorded in Acts, they "had all things in common” redistributing the wealth according to need, i.e., "as every man had need," Acts 2:44-45, none saying “aught” “was his own,” Acts 4:32, 34-35. They "sold" their income-producing "lands or houses," donating the proceeds to the Church, i.e., "at the apostles' feet," thereby abolishing poverty, Acts 4:34. They did this pursuant to Christ's
    a. encouragement as the author cites
    b. direction in Matthew 25:35-40 stating criteria for salvation,
    c. parable on equal pay, Matthew 20:1-15,
    d. mandate / command, "Every one of you who does not renounce all he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33, Mark 10:21, Luke 18:22), and
    e. example, Philippians 2:6-8, giving up everything to be equal with His children during His first Century years on earth, He practiced as He preached.

    Pope Francis is working in the direction of this First Century Christian economic policy following Christ's encouragement, direction and personal example.