Sunday, November 9, 2014

Our Potential for Spiritual Greatness

Francis  of Assisi holding up the Lateran
The Lateran Basilica, the Pope’s Cathedral as the Bishop of Rome, has a fascinating history: built by the Emperor Constantine in the 4th century and named after the Laterani family, who had a palace there; reconstructed many times; home to the popes for a thousand years and meeting place of 5 out of 21 ecumenical councils.

The Lateran Basilica, like many magnificent churches, can easily lift us up out of ourselves into the awesome presence of God.

The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in the 6th century before Jesus, the 500s.  In scripture, Ezekiel describes a vision of a newly rebuilt temple, where water flows out and refreshes and revitalizes everything and everyone it touches.

Do people see in us channels of God’s grace and generosity and compassion and forgiveness? 

Paul, in his letter to the Christian community in Corinth in Greece, says that we are “temples of God” and the Spirit of God lives and breathes and stirs within us. 

Do our attitudes and behavior reflect who we are:  living temples of God?   Do we see other people also as living temples?

In the Gospel according to John, Jesus enters the Temple in Jerusalem, the abode of Yahweh. 

And here Jesus alludes to his death and resurrection. He is the Living Temple of God, the face of God among us.  And yes, he will die but God will raise this earthly Jesus up into a new, transformed heavenly Jesus. 

In one way or another, Ezekiel, Paul and John proclaim that God is alive among us. 

What makes us feel alive?  It means different things to different people at different times.  For some, astronauts walking on the moon for the first time.  Or a tenor reaching high C.  Or a mother or father holding a child.  A sports championship. Achievement of a goal. 

What does it mean to be alive in Christ?  The Spirit of God in the baptismal waters lifts us up mystically out of our earthly lives into a new, transformed heavenly life that our eyes cannot see, our ears cannot hear, our minds cannot imagine NOW. 

Yes, we possess God’s eternal life here and now.  It is the life of the triune God. The God who created this universe, who became human in Jesus of Nazareth, and lives and breathes within us by the fire of the Spirit. 

How alive in Christ are we?  How do we respond to the gift of God’s life in us?  Do we live the mindset and heart-set of the beatitudes in the Gospels?  Are we grateful for who we are?  Do we pursue our true purpose in life, single-heartedly?

God recognizes the potential for spiritual greatness in each of us.  The Spirit lives and breathes in us and empowers us to continue the saving work of Jesus Christ: to be instruments of God’s grace and goodness and compassion and generosity and love and forgiveness to the people around us and to all God’s creation. 

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