In The Name Of Jesus Christ I Say To You: Rise and Walk!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This is the third week of Easter and we have been saying that without the resurrection we would be only social workers or do-gooders, but not able to overcome the deaths of life. This is the vision that God has for us and it would be a shame to miss it. Hopefully our vision of St. Joe’s would include being a community of communities where no one is left alone and where we find Christ in the other person. Imagine if everyone in the parish had that idea fixed firmly in his/her consciousness? What a different place it would be.
Jesus shows us this vision last week when he returned to the upper room after his resurrection and said to them three times: Peace, be with you! And he also said that he will also send the Apostles as he was sent. He sent them, and he sends us, to give peace to those around us, which is not something we can do on our own strength. It is something that God places inside the one who is at peace with him.
This week the reading from Acts of the Apostles helps us to have a broader vision of the calling of God. Peter just before this reading had been asked by a crippled beggar for alms. Peter responded that he had no money, but in the name of Jesus Christ I say to you rise and walk. And the man walked, and was totally astounded. Then Peter addresses the people and says, “Why do you think it is by our own power that we had him walk?” It was not done through them, but by the power of this God of our Fathers. Peter told the people that they participated in the death of Christ and now he is risen. And Peter and the apostles are witnesses of this. Christianity is not about a set of beliefs but it is based on a person and an event.
The apostles and disciples gave their lives not because of what they saw, a resurrected Christ, but from what they experienced: the power of the resurrection to cure a lame man who had not walked in decades. Peter says that it was not in his power to do such a miracle but in the power of the name of Christ. This is what sets us free from fear and worry. This is what heals broken and wounded hearts. When we give over some of our lives to him, he heals us.
Peter points to a new vision for our lives. He awakens them to the power of Jesus Christ that comes from trusting in him. People do not think normally that God has a plan for them and for their kids. God has created each one of us for a purpose that no one else can fulfill. When there is a vision, people thrive, and so do marriages, kids, young adults, and everyone. What kills us is sins and meaninglessness apart from God.
The renovation of our church and its addition are not just about adding an elevator and bathroom and more lighting and a permanent altar. It is about achieving the vision that God sees for each one of us. He wants each of us to have a personal relationship with him within a community of Christians. When people do not have a God-centered vision or the support of others, families can more easily fall apart, relationships are damaged, and people abuse drugs or alcohol to numb the pain. They will turn to everything and anything.
But where there is vision, people thrive. Relationships are healed, marriages are saved, babies are born, middle school and high school kids feel confident and speak of God. We are needy people looking for salvation. We are hungry people looking for food. We found an answer to the questions of life. The Church exists to share this message, to be missionary. Our renovation will help us to do this more effectively and reach many more people who long for happiness in their day to day lives.