How Long, Lord?

[On] the day He was taken up…, the disciples asked Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” –Acts 1:1,6

This is what the disciples asked Christ after He had risen from the dead. It was an honest question. A thousand years earlier, the Lord had consecrated King David as the shepherd of His people. But for centuries, the people of God had lived under the unjust yoke of foreign overlords.

king davidFaithful Jews longed for the Messiah to come and restore the kingdom of David. Now the Messiah had come. He had conquered death. He was restoring the Kingdom. In fact, He was restoring the entire human race to the friendship of God. His next step was to ascend personally to heaven. The disciples were to persevere patiently until all things were fulfilled.

The disciples, however, had a different idea. They wanted immediate satisfaction. “Hasn’t the time come to straighten everything out now, Lord?”

Can we blame the disciples for being impatient? Don’t we want immediate satisfaction, too?

1967-Cadillac-EldoradoDon’t we want God to make everything make sense? Don’t we want to be freed from the yoke of temptation? Wouldn’t we be happier if all good was rewarded fairly and all evil punished right here and now? Don’t we want the truth vindicated, all lies exposed, and all bad guys locked up?

And what about the dark mysteries we have to endure? Don’t we want God to reveal all secrets? Don’t we want all the truth out in the open?

We are like the disciples. We do not want to slog down the long, hard road of faith.

Therefore, the answer the Lord Jesus gave the disciples comes to us like a kick in the teeth. ‘Lord, when will you set all things to rights?’ His answer: It is not for you to know. It is not for you to know. It could be a good long while. Just hang tight.

Hang tight, He says.

Okay. God is God. We will have to accept this answer. He knows what He is doing. But how do we make our peace with His answer?

Here is St. Paul’s encouraging word to us, from our second reading:

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you many know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power. –Ephesians 1:18-19

“May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened.” So: Our hearts have eyes.

Perhaps this comes as a surprise. But the eyes in our hearts actually can see better than our outward eyes. Our inner eyes can behold what these eyes are too blind to see.

eyesOur outer eyes cannot see that Jesus is God, but the eyes of our hearts can. Our outward eyes cannot see that the man who hung on the cross is now in the glory of heaven, but our inner eyes can see it. Our outer eyes cannot see the Lord pouring down grace in buckets from heaven to help us get through every trial and difficulty, but our inner eyes can. Our inner eyes can see that Christ is with us in the Blessed Sacrament. Our inner eyes can see His hand guiding everything for our good.

Our outer eyes crave satisfaction here and now. But our inner eyes have more perspective. Our inner eyes perceive this fundamental fact: We human beings had no hope, no good expectations at all. Then God became one of us, and we could hope again.

Without Christ, we could have gone on wishing and wishing for a kingdom of righteousness, truth, and light on earth. But, as they say, wishes don’t empty dishwashers.

dishwasherSatan and the demons are craftier and more resourceful than we are. Just when we human beings start to think we have managed to fix the world ourselves, something happens–and suddenly we have no idea what in the name of God is going on.

At such times, we have this to fall back on: God shared this hard pilgrimage with us in Christ. He did not become man to ride around in a Cadillac. He knows every depth of human sorrow and pain, from the inside.

Up in heaven, He knows all. He has a complete and perfect plan. We are weak. We are helpless. He is in charge. He asks us to wait patiently for His plan to unfold completely. What else can we do?

There is nothing wrong with our wanting everything to make sense. There is nothing wrong with our wanting everything set to rights. We really would be lost if we did not want these things. If we have any real hope, this is precisely what we hope for: that everything would be right and make sense. We hope for the restoration of the Kingdom of God.

God is going to do it. The Lord Jesus will come again in glory. We cannot imagine how wonderful it will be. It will take us the rest of our lives even to begin to get ready for it. And it will happen at the proper time.

In the meantime: Patience.

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