Saturday, May 11, 2013

7th Sunday in Easter (C)
Moving To Skype

Picture: cc jayneandd

Sisters and brothers, there was a time when, if you wanted to have a face-to-face conversation with someone, you had to take the trouble to actually travel to the place where that person happened to be. Otherwise, you’d have to settle for communicating over the phone, or through a letter, or email. But now, thanks to advances in modern technology, we’re actually able to see the person we’re talking to, even if s/he happens to be very far away. This is what Skype enables us to do, doesn’t it? Skype lets us see and speak to people from a distance. Without our having to travel to another place. I can have a face-to-face conversation even with someone on the other side of the globe. And all from the comfort of my own home. That’s the wonder of Skype. It allows us to enjoy the presence of our colleagues and business associates, our friends and our loved ones, without us actually having to travel great distances to wherever they may happen to be.

And yet, we should not allow ourselves to be fooled. As much as Skype is able to help us communicate without having to travel very far, isn’t it true that some kind of movement on our part is still always required? For one thing, even if people can now communicate from wherever they happen to be, they still have to be willing to at least come in front of their computers or smartphones. They also at least have to be willing to make time for each other. They at least have to be ready to share their thoughts and feelings with another. And to listen to what the other has to say. Just having the Skype programme in my computer will do me no good, if I have neither the desire nor the will to use it. However advanced the technology may be, true human connection still requires some degree of movement on my part. To communicate with another, there’s always a certain distance I have to travel. Even if it’s just the distance to wherever my computer may happen to be.

In order for meaningful connections to be established, some degree of movement is always required. And this is true not just of connections among human beings, but also especially of the connection with God. This is what our Mass readings are all about today. The establishment of face-to-face connections between human beings and God. Between earth and heaven. This is what Jesus is doing in the Gospel. The Lord prays. And he begins his prayer by establishing a connection with his Father. We’re told that Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Heavenly Father…” In the first reading, St. Stephen–the first martyr–does something very similar. Like Jesus, Stephen begins his prayer by shifting his gaze. We’re told that he turned his eyes to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. The establishment of a connection between earth and heaven. This too is what St. John is writing about in the second reading. Except that here John is talking not just about any connection, but the final connection that will be made at the end of time. When Christ will descend from heaven to earth at the second coming.

But that’s not all. The establishment of a connection between earth and heaven doesn’t take place simply with a shift in one’s gaze. Some further movement is required. It’s quite striking to see, for example, how frequently the word come occurs in the second reading. And of the five times that the word come is used, only twice is it clearly addressed to Jesus. The one whose coming is so eagerly anticipated. Let everyone who listens answer, ‘Come.’ … Amen; come Lord Jesus. The other times the word come is used, it is addressed instead to the people who are waiting for the Lord. It is addressed to us. Happy are those who will have washed their robes clean, so that they… can come through the gates into the city.’ The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ Then let all who are thirsty come... In anticipation of the second coming of Christ, in expectation of the final connection between earth and heaven, the second reading keeps speaking to us about the need for movement. Come!

But where? To which location are we to come? If we wish to Skype we know we need to find a computer or a smartphone. But what if we want to establish a connection with God? Where do we go for that? What movement do we need to make? The answer is found in our readings. In the first reading, what enables St. Stephen to make a connection with God is not just the shifting of his gaze into the heavens. Something else is going on. Something very significant.

We begin to appreciate what this movement is by carefully considering what is happening to Stephen. He is being stoned to death for his proclamation of the Good News. A proclamation that Stephen carries out in the power of the Holy Spirit. And it is also this same Spirit that enables Stephen to surrender his life into the hands of the Lord, even as he prays for the forgiveness of those who are killing him. Lord Jesus, he says, receive my spirit…. do not hold this sin against them. What we see in Stephen is a reproduction of the life of Christ. This is the movement that establishes a true connection with God. The movement into Christ. The transformation of a person’s life into the image and likeness of Christ. Who laid down his own life for us. So that we might have life in abundance.

Coming to Christ. Living and dying in Christ. This is the movement we need to make. And, contrary to what some others may think, this movement is made not in isolation but in community. To come to Christ is also to be more deeply immersed, to be more intimately involved, in the life of the Church, the Body of Christ. For this is also where Christ is found. As the Lord himself prays to his heavenly Father in the gospel, that they may be one as we are one. With me in them and you in me, may they be so completely one that the world will realise that it was you who sent me.

To establish a connection with God is to make a movement into Christ. A movement that entails deeper involvement in the Body of Christ. Isn’t this why we are here this evening? Not so much because failure to show up would mean being guilty of sin. Requiring a visit to the confessional. But more because we are thirsting for a connection to God in Christ. More because we are yearning to respond ever more positively to God’s invitation to us to come. To come to the living waters of the Body and Blood of Christ, in which we find life to the full.

Sisters and brothers, the Lord wishes to help us establish a deeper, more lasting connection with God. How ready are we to let Him Skype us today?

1 comment:

  1. Lord, YOU wish to build up a rapport with me - please grant me the courage to face the reality and plain truths about myself as You will reveal to me in Your time.

    May I be available and free whenever You Skype me... may I never block nor stand in Your way, because of my limitations and weaknesses.

    Lord, May You INCREASE as I decrease.

    Seeing Is Believing


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