15 April 2013

Be a work of God

3rd Week of Easter (M)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

What can we do to accomplish the works of God? Absolutely nothing. . .until we first believe. Belief in the One Whom God sent is the difference that makes all the difference btw “doing a good work” and “doing God's work.” It should go without saying that non-believers can do the same good works that believers do. Non-believers can be morally good people too. Aquinas refers to these folks as “virtuous pagans.” That's not an insult, by the way; he's complimenting these non-believers for their natural virtues and hoping that these virtues will eventually lead them to Christ. So, what's the difference btw a virtuous pagan who feeds the hungry and a Christian who feeds the hungry? Both accomplish a good work. Both satisfy the requirements of natural justice. And the person being fed couldn't care less who gives them something to eat. The difference lies in why the hungry person is being fed. The virtuous pagan is motivated by a merely human desire to be compassionate and acts accordingly. The Christian is motivated by this same desire, but acts for no other reason than to reveal the glory of God. What can we do to accomplish the works of God? Jesus says, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” 

When we believe in the One Whom God sent, we re-order our desires and motivations to reflect a new creation; that is, we re-arrange what we want and why we act in such a way that we become living icons of Christ—human windows into the glory of God. In the same way that the Son reveals the Father, we reveal the Son so that the Father might be seen working in the world. To accomplish this work, our belief in Christ must be more than just a statement of fact, or casual assent. Our belief must be acted upon, made real in word and deed. If we believe in Christ, then we must be Christs in the world. We are his Body—one heart and mind, one faith—doing what he has commanded us to do. When asked by the crowd how God's work might be accomplished, Jesus replies, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” And when you have come to believe in the one sent by God, work out of that belief so that anyone who sees you or hears you will come to know and love the Risen Lord. He says to us, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life. . .” 

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1 comment:

  1. I just love it when a Gospel reading sneaks up on me and "WHAM", hits me with something I've heard before but never Heard before: “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”

    Appreciated the distinctions you made in paragraph 1. Paragraph 2 wasn't long enough for me - I just wanted to hear more ;-). Straight-forward and simple, yet with an element of challenge to it - good way to start on a Monday morning. Thanks.