Blog # 329 Presence of Jesus
Long ago and far away. Those words seem rather innocent, and yet, in religion, they can be dangerous.
Long ago and far away are words of joy when spoken of pneumonia back home in New York City eighty years ago. Long ago and far away. Thanks be to God!
Jesus in Jerusalem long ago and far away. There is the danger. We believe the Eternal Word of God received the name Jesus in the historical reality of the incarnation. Both names refer to a single person.
Jesus is the timeless man and Nazareth is the world. We do not know Jesus if we do not know Him in the here and now. For genuine Christians , wherever there is praise and thanksgiving to the Father, wherever there is forgiveness of sins in His name, wherever there is hope for eternal life, there is Jesus, living among us and within us by His Spirit, blessing us with joy and giving us strength.
By faith Jesus steps of of history and lives with us today. He calls us to the newness and development of tomorrow.
Faith is knowledge. But the knowledge must be received, handed down , given.
"...faith comes by hearing." ( Rom. 10:17). We need a witness, someone who speaks to us and tells us something we would not otherwise know.
Jesus is our witness to the Father's life and love. The Eternal Word knew the Father by experience. Emmanuel, the Eternal Word incarnate, in Jesus became a witness to the Father on earth by His life and words. Jesus testified that the Father is worthy of our unconditional trust and total love, the Father loves all people and wants all to come to the Father through Jesus.
Christians down through the ages have gone to all corners of the world sharing the knowledge they have by faith in this same message of Jesus. For Junipero Serra Jesus and he walked together as he limped up and down the California coast telling the people of the Father's love and they were brothers and sisters in Jesus.
One night many years ago, when I was driving home from visiting a very poor family in rural Georgia, the thought occurred to me: you say God loves all people and wants us to be happy. What does that mean to these four small children whose father is too uneducated to hold down a
good paying job and whose mother is retarded?"
The trip home was thirty-eight miles, several of them over dirt roads. I had most of an hour to struggle with the answer. Before I parked the car in front of the church I was well convinced of the danger and betrayal in regarding Jesus as a person who lived in the "long ago and far away". It is His will, that united with Him by faith and Baptism as branches on a Vine and members of a Body, we be for one another His living presence, His energy, consolation and love. When I went back to teach that family how to grow lettuce for a balanced diet, brought them food and clothing, helped return a used TV they had bought for a house without electricity, and assisted in finding a job, it was really Jesus doing all of this in the here and now. I was answering in faith the prayer Jesus prayed to the Father long ago and far away in the here and now of rural Georgia that the Father would be one with Jesus and Jesus would be one with all who believe and are Baptized. (Jn. 17 20 - 28.
May your heart and mine be ever faithful kind and generous enough to know and love Jesus present and living within and around us in our everyday experience of life!