God's will be done here

Today, we need to be aware that we do not know exactly what the future holds for us. Like the Jews, we know and expect Jesus to come. Like in ancient times, we do not know what to expect when the second coming of Jesus occurs. The only other thing we know for sure is exactly what we say every time we recite the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

Image by Barbara Jackson

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

By Lou Occhi

Acts 13:44-52
John 14:7-14

Today’s readings both are about misunderstandings. The gospel reading relates the lack of understanding by the apostles of Jesus’ relationship with the Father. They did not grasp that although Jesus and the Father are separate, they are also one. If you know Jesus, you know the Father as well. In the second reading we see that some Jews had the impression that Jesus was their exclusive savior. They failed to understand that Jesus came through them for their salvation and the salvation of the rest of the world.

Today’s gospel reading begins with Jesus telling His disciples, “If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Phillip responds, “Master, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus takes a deep breath, rolls His eyes and says in the sweetest way, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Phillip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing His works.”

I personally can understand Phillip’s confusion. How can the Father be in heaven, and be Jesus. Of course, I can go along with this since I have great hindsight. Yet it is still a mystery to me. I once read in the book, ‘Mystical City of God’ by Mary of Agreda something that in a way parallels this dilemma. Mary of Agreda lived in the 1600s and was a mystic nun known for her ability to bilocate. She also experienced apparitions of our Blessed Mother. In those apparitions, our Blessed Mother dictated her life story to this nun. 

Phillip and the disciples had not understood 
the close tie between Jesus and the Father 
and the extent of that tie.

ln the book, Our Blessed Mother asked Jesus to share in His suffering during His passion. She wanted to join her suffering with His suffering for the salvation of souls. Jesus granted her holy request. During the passion she would see what He saw, hear what He heard, felt the slaps and blows to His body, felt the every strike during the scourging, etc. but displayed no physical signs. When you think about the crucifixion, remember Simeon’s prophesy to Mary, “A sword will pierce your soul.” During that period, if you looked at her, you would see Jesus and if you looked at Him you would see her. They were of one mind and spiritually joined in the passion. I know this is not exactly the same as Jesus’ tie to the Father but it does give a sort of glimpse of how that might be. Jesus, both fully human and divine, is bonded to the Father who is fully divine. Each can see, experience and know all that the other can see, experience and know. Yet they are fully independent of each other. I don’t know if this is any help to you but it does seem to make sense to me. Phillip and the disciples had not understood the close tie between Jesus and the Father and the extent of that tie.

This brings us to the first reading from Acts. Paul and Barnabas were speaking at the synagogue. They went through the history of the Jews from their captivity in Egypt to the present. In speaking, Paul and Barnabas explained that the Jews were chosen by God to bring salvation to the world through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The Jews at the synagogue were gladdened to hear all that Paul and Barnabas had to say. They then asked Paul and Barnabas to speak again on the following Sabbath.

Word spread and, on the following Sabbath, almost the entire town gathered to hear Paul and Barnabas. What happened reminded me about an incident I encountered going to mass a few weeks ago. I arrived at church and found that some interloper was sitting in my pew. How dare he! 

Well the Jews in the crowd had a similar reaction when they saw that many in the crowd were not Jews. They, filled with jealousy, became violent and abusive. How dare these interlopers horn in on their show. In the gospel, the apostles did not understand the relationship between Jesus and the Father. In this reading from Acts, the Jews did not understand their role in bringing salvation to the world. They contradicted what Paul and Barnabas had tried to explain at the synagogue the week before. Paul and Barnabas rebuke the rebels in the crowd and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us. “I have made you a light to the gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.” That last part is a referral to Isaiah 49:6 that states, “Behold, I have offered you as a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring my salvation even to the furthest ends of the earth.” Many of the Jews failed to understand what a magnificent part they were to play in bringing salvation, not just to themselves, but to the entire world.

In a way, I can understand how the Jews felt. They were taught, almost from birth, that they were the chosen people. In their mind, the Messiah was coming just for them. The prevailing thought was that this Messiah would lead them in driving the Romans away and restore their nation to glory. What they missed was the descriptions of the Messiah in the Pentateuch, the Torah and psalms. There are places where the writings describe a suffering Messiah. The Torah referred to this Messiah as the Messiah ben Joseph. Other places describe a conquering Messiah. The Torah refers to this Messiah as Messiah ben David. Needless to say, this had to be confusing. How can a Messiah be both suffering and conquering? If I was a Jew in that time I would have sided with the conquering Messiah. They did not know or understand that there would be a second coming.

Today, we need to be aware that we do not know exactly what the future holds for us. Like the Jews, we know and expect Jesus to come. Like in ancient times, we do not know what to expect when the second coming of Jesus occurs. We need to be aware that the second coming is going to as big a surprise as the first coming. If I am still alive when it does occur I will remember certain parts of the bible. Then I will think, “Of course, why was I so blind.” What Jesus tells us is always be prepared and to not be afraid. The only other thing we know for sure is exactly what we say every time we recite the Lord’s prayer, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” 

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