Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA
Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to his Father to prepare a place for them, “Where I am going you know the way.” Our hard-headed brother, Thomas, filled with worrisome questions, asks, “How can we know the way?” Jesus answers, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. . .Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. . .” The Way to the Father is to believe in his Son and to manifest the Holy Spirit by doing the works that Christ did. The Church teaches that Christ Jesus is the “perfected revelation” of God. The bishops of the Second Vatican Council write, “To see Jesus is to see His Father. For this reason Jesus perfected revelation by fulfilling it through his whole work of making Himself present and manifesting Himself. . .”(DV 4). So that we might have access to the Father, the Son of God is given to us as a fulfillment of all revelation. Christ is how the Father made good on His promises to the His people. When we believe in the Christ and do the works that he did, we participate in God's revelation to His creation.
OK. That's some heavy-duty stuff. Let's break it down a bit. First, any good work that we do is done b/c we share in the goodness of God by His grace. We do no good work on our own. Next, if the good works that we do always share in the goodness of God, then it follows that our good works demonstrate something of God's nature; namely, they manifest God's goodness, His abundant generosity. The more good works we do, the more fruitfully we participate in God's goodness. The more we participate in God's goodness, the more we reveal about God's nature. Our goal here is to become “perfected revelations” of God. Of course, as long as we remain on this side of heaven, our particular revelations will be imperfect, incomplete; however, the perfect should never be an enemy of the good. That we cannot be perfect revelations of God right now cannot be allowed to prevent us from being the best possible revelations that we can be! Even imperfect revelations of God can bring to the light of Christ those who are lost in darkness. We are vowed in baptism to be small lamps along the Way for yourselves and for another.
Jesus says that those who know him also know the Father. The challenge this presents for us is: can those who are lost know the Father by knowing me? Now, Catholics seem to instinctively shy away from this kind of question b/c it sounds very Protestant, very Evangelical. Our instincts lead us toward a more devotional life, a life of corporate public prayer (Mass) and private, personal devotion (novenas, rosaries). We do not gravitate toward public witness or showy evangelization. Being a revelation of God to the world does not require theatrics—no soapboxes in the town square or radio programs or going door to door. All that is required is that when we are presented with the chance to act, to speak, to think like Christ, we do so. And in that act or word or deed we reveal God's goodness and shine His light in the darkness. Will that light result in a lost soul finding the Way? Maybe, maybe not. That's God's work. Our work, the work we have vowed to do, is to shine Christ's light everywhere we go, in everything we do, and be—though imperfect—living revelations of God. If you will be perfect as the Father is perfect, ask yourself every minute of the day: am I—right this minute—revealing the goodness of God, His abundant gift of mercy and love?___________________
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