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Breath of the Spirit
Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.
Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.
As God’s children now, and having a promise of being more like him/her in the future, what can we expect? What should we be striving to become?
APRIL 26, 2015: FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Today’s reading from IJohn contains one of the most important and best-known lines in Scripture: “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Just what does it mean to be “like him?”
As God’s children now, and having a promise of being more like him/her in the future, what can we expect? What should we be striving to become? Though I presume no one has a precise idea of what such divine similarity entails, today’s two other readings might provide us with some hints.
Both Luke and John the Evangelist take for granted that Jesus of Nazareth is God’s child par excellence. So by reflecting on the special titles they give to that special child, we might understand something of what’s expected of us as God’s children.
In our Acts pericope, Peter defends his cure of the crippled beggar by telling his accusers that he’s simply continuing the ministry of Jesus our savior. Often we think that salvation only revolves around someday getting to heaven. Though that’s a significant part of biblical salvation, it’s only a part. Our Christian sacred authors presumed Jesus is saving us right here and now, long before we enter the pearly gates. In this case, Peter, as another Christ, saves the beggar by releasing him from the paralysis which completely controls his life.
If we’re committed to becoming saving co-workers with Jesus, God’s child, then we’re also committed to helping remove the paralysis which stops people from being the individuals God wishes them to be. If Jesus is a savior in those situations, then we must also try to be saviors in parallel situations.
Today we’re more conscious than in the past of types of paralysis which go far beyond the physical. We know that psychological paralysis is often more painful and debilitating than bodily paralysis. Just the simple act of forgiving others the pain they’ve caused in our life can help remove the pain and paralysis that our unforgiveness causes in their life. The daily anxiety which many feel because they’re “different” from the rest of us, can easily force them to be psychologically immobile. They regress into themselves, afraid to let others know who they really are. A saving word or a welcoming smile of acceptance from us can often break the chains which tie them down.
Perhaps that’s why the consoling image of Jesus the good shepherd quickly became so popular among his early followers. It frequently appears in the writings of the “Fathers,” and often is depicted in catacomb art. John’s Jesus assures us we’re following behind someone who not only knows us, but is willing to lay down his life for us; certainly something which we who imitate this unique child of God should also be willing to do for those around us.
Yet we should never overlook that part of today’s gospel which speaks about Jesus being constantly on the outlook for “other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” Though we find great security in being part of a specific Christian community, there should always be certain unease in that security. There’s always those “out there” who would give anything to be part of our flock. A big piece of their salvation right here and now could revolve around our welcoming them into our communities right here and now, no matter the cost to us.
Sounds great to hear ourselves called children of God, but that title comes with certain implications, implications which surface when we hear some of the other titles God’s unique child has acquired.
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