Sunday, June 1, 2014

Following my Lord to the End of the Universe: And Beyond

(From Dosso Dossi, via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
("The Ascension," by Dosso Dossi/Giovanni di Niccolò de Luteri.)

This is one of my favorite bits of the Bible:
"8 The eleven 9 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.

"10 When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.

"11 Then Jesus approached and said to them, 'All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

"Go, therefore, 12 and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit,

"teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. 13 And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
(Matthew 28:16-20)
So, for slightly different reasons, is this:
"When they had gathered together they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going 4 to restore the kingdom to Israel?'

"5 He answered them, 'It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.

"6 But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'

"When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

"While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

"They said, 'Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.' "
(Acts 1:6-11)
Acts 1:11 reminds me of stories where, after the general's address, a sergeant says 'you heard the orders: Move out.'

Can't say that I blame the "Men of Galilee" for just standing there. They'd gotten orders from the Son of God, and seen my Lord get airlifted back to headquarters. That was a lot to absorb, all at once.

Standing Orders and Human Nature

Two millennia later, the standing orders outlined at the end of Matthew are still in effect.

I'm as sure as I can be, that 'making disciples of all nations' doesn't involve what Charlemagne did, and that's another topic. (May 18, 2014)

I don't think folks have changed all that much since the days of the Apostles. Despite what we're told in Mark 13:32 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1 about my Lord's return, every few years someone comes up with a new 'End Times Bible Prophecy.' More topics. (June 14, 2011)

I take what I read in Revelation 19:11-13 seriously. I'm also quite certain that I don't know more than Jesus — and that Revelation wasn't written by an American. Then there's John 12:15. Yet again more topics.

Comics, Talents, and Getting a Grip

Back in the '60s, Robert L. Short's "The Gospel According to Peanuts" included a comic strip in which the kids see Snoopy, shivering in the snow. They tell him "Be of good cheer, Snoopy." "Yes, be of good cheer." Then they walk away.

There's more to faith than just talk: or should be.

We're supposed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and care for folks who are ill or in prison. Matthew 25:14-46 makes it clear that where we spend eternity depends on how well we carry out these basic acts of charity.

I could decide that, since I can't feed everyone who is hungry, end world poverty, and visit every one of the 7,000,000,000 or so folks alive who are ill or in prison: I'm doomed to eternal torment. That, in my considered opinion, would be silly.

The parable about talents in Matthew 25 makes the point that we're expected to use what we've got. It also, I think, tells us that we don't all have the same share of the world's goods. I think God is smart enough to know what I can, and can't, do.

We're supposed to take care of each other, and that's still more topics. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1928-1942, 2401-2407)

Works of Love

But aren't we supposed to be making disciples of all nations? How can we do that if we spend time helping the poor?

Maybe that's a silly question. Or maybe not. I've run into folks who get upset because 'nobody cares,' and that's — what else? — another topic.

I don't see making disciples, helping the poor, and all the rest, as either/or situations. Anyway, I think most folks are more impressed by what they see others doing, than what they say.
"...Works of love directed to one's neighbour are the most perfect external manifestation of the interior grace of the Spirit...."
("Evangelii Gaudium," p. 32, Pope Francis (2013))
I don't help the poor in Calcutta, work in a prison ministry, or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Those are all good ideas, but I'm pretty sure that we're not all supposed to love and serve God the same way. 1 Corinthians 12 and all that.

I'm pretty good at research and writing: no bragging there, it's part of the package God gave me. Putting these posts together seems like a good use for those skills.

So, until God pushes me into something else, I'll soldier on: sharing my delight in the beauty and order of this universe, and the unfolding wonders that God provides.

One way or another, I plan to keep learning how to know, love, and serve God for the rest of my life. After that, I hope that I'll be with my Lord after the closing ceremony we call the Last Judgment. (Catechism, 668-679, 1020-1050, 1720-1724)

"The heavens declare the glory of God..."

(From ESO/T. Preibisch, via IMAX and Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(The Eta Carina Nebula.)

We've learned quite a bit about the universe in the two-dozen-plus centuries since Deuteronomy was written. But I'm not concerned about our knowing 'too much.'

If anything, being aware of the scale of this creation enhances its value as an example of the Creator's glory:
"1 Think! The heavens, even the highest heavens, belong to the LORD, your God, as well as the earth and everything on it."
(Deuteronomy 10:14)

"When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place -

"4 What are humans that you are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?

"5 Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor."
(Psalms 8:4-6)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft."
(Psalms 19:2)
I think it's also prudent to remember that the universe, vast and astounding as it is, is a temporary affair:
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away."
(Mark 13:31)

"Then the sky was divided 13 like a torn scroll curling up, and every mountain and island was moved from its place."
(Revelation 6:14)

"1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2"
(Revelation 21:1)
There's more, there always seems to be more. It's like the Gospel of John says:
"There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written."
(John 21:25)
Related posts:

1 comment:

Brigid said...

Missing word: "included a comic strip the kids see Snoopy, shivering in the snow."

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