Keystone Cops in Jerusalem

The Sanhedrin officiously dispatched their court officers. The armed guards made their sword-jangling way to the jail—only to find that the incarcerated Apostles had mysteriously gone missing from behind locked gates. They marched back to the chamber and bumbled through their report.

A Keystone Cops episode in ancient Jerusalem. The angel of God managed to turn the jealous and hateful Sadducees into the Three Stooges.

Meanwhile the intrepid Apostles took their place to tell people about this life. The angel told them to. “Take your place, and tell people everything about this life.” The Lord gives us the same instruction. Take your place. Tell people everything about this life.

Okay. Take my place. Do I know what my place is? The place where God wants me to be?

Sometimes this question can get tricky. But if I start with: He wants me right here, right now; He wants me in His Church; He wants me to be faithful to the duties I have undertaken; He wants me doing good and avoiding evil—if I start with these immediate basics, then the question of where I belong can become less intimidating.

This question has crucial importance of course—the place I am to take. After all, telling people everything about this life is not an easy job.

First of all, we need to know which people to tell. With seven billion people in this world, neither you nor I can tell them all. When each of us takes his or her place, though—then we find the people we are supposed to focus on. At which point we then proceed to tell them everything about this life.

This life with God. This life of hope and love. This life of giving ourselves over to help others.

This life aimed at something greater than the world offers. This life that demands self-sacrifice and mortification of the flesh. This life that promises the only real blessedness—the blessedness of virtue, holiness, and eternal life.

How could we possibly tell people everything about this? After all, St. John reports in his gospel that the world could not contain all the books that could be written about the glorious works of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But we can make a start. Maybe we can obey the angel’s instruction by telling all the people we know that the best place for them to take would be a seat in church with us. We don’t claim to know God’s will for everyone. But we know this much: We love everybody, and we want everybody in our Church with us.

Saul & David, Lucifer & Christ

In the very beginning, the great light-bearer of heaven beheld the Son of God and refused to serve Him, refused to co-operate with Him. Lucifer instead imagined a universe in which he sat alone on the highest throne.

In the end, only two paths lay open to us, brothers and sisters. On the one hand, humble submission to God Who is greater than we are. On the other, jealousy.

Saul had been made king by a higher authority. Young David sought nothing but to protect the reign. God gave David prodigious gifts, which he put to the service of the people. Saul, who never knew how to submit to the true divine king, saw in David only a threat. Just like Lucifer had seen in Christ only a threat.

David had no regal designs. He loved to play the lyre. Saul’s jealousy was ill-founded and led only to his own destruction.

Christ, of course, had no choice but to have regal designs—but what designs! He reigns from a cross, His Heart pierced, His Body mortally wounded.

So Lucifer’s jealousy, too, was ill-founded. His own dreams of a kingdom were fulfilled—but what a kingdom! The realm of darkness, ignorance, and senseless pain where no one serves the good God.

Let’s choose humble submission, brothers and sisters. Let’s give God glory for the great gifts he has chosen to give others. May God be praised for all the people who are smarter, better-looking, and more talented than we are!

Our job is humbly to serve the Master of all, to do the best with what we’ve got.

Let’s choose this, because the alternative is nothing but a ceaseless competition that we can’t win. When we give God the glory, we find ourselves on the winning team. Better to be a bench-warmer on a winning team than a superstar in hell.

Provocation to Humility

Mt. Precipice, Nazareth

Jesus said, “I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon.

“Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”

When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. (Luke 4:25-29)

Last Sunday we read that the Lord Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and announced to the faithful Jews in His hometown that He is the Messiah.

We might think that this dramatic revelation would have led to immediate euphoria. We might think that, when the Messiah revealed Himself to the people who had known Him since He was a boy, everybody would have believed, and rejoiced, and smiled, and hugged, and said nice things about each other.

But this is not what happened. The people in the synagogue doubted. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”

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