MTV would say that Jesus was a loser.
The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times would write Him off as a nut.
Donald Trump would fire Him.
And it very well may be true that if Jesus walked into church on Sunday, no one would say hi to Him. No one would recognize Him. If He preached a homily, people would probably throw cabbage at Him, French Revolution style (draw yourself a mental image!).
Of course, Jesus is seated at the Father’s right hand now. He is Risen, and can’t come to us in the same way that He came to the world 2000 years ago. The next time He comes will be for triumph, judgement, and justice; for the end of the world and the inauguration of the Kingdom (and no, that’s not going to happen this Saturday, May 21st!). But what if He did come again, as before? Would things go any differently this time? Remember Jesus’ haunting words, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8).
Jesus came into the world to redeem it. But He didn’t redeem it by being a recognizable success, or a worldly power (in fact, this is what many of the Jews of the day were looking for from a Messiah – Jesus didn’t fit the description). Jesus redeemed the world with His blood. St. Paul tells us that the Cross is a scandal to the Jews, and folly to the Greeks (i.e. Gentiles, non-Jews). But the Cross is the power of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24). The Cross is worldly failure, but it is in the end, our redemption.
The total abasement and disaster of the Cross leads to the defeat of death, freedom from sin, and Easter Resurrection. Jesus Christ reigns! And isn’t this what we want, for Jesus to reign? Or do we want to be successful? Do we want the credit? Do we want the glory?
My friends, it can’t work both ways. Either glorify Christ or glorify self (which is fading glory indeed). If we want to extend Jesus’ reign to the whole world, we have to:
1. Be faithful to the Father’s will – Just as Jesus did in the Garden – “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done. Do the Father’s will even if it diminishes worldly success; even if it doesn’t immediately seem rational.
2. Worldly failure – Allow yourself to be placed on the Cross, if faithfulness to the Father’s will so requires. Be truthful to God. Be meek and sacrificial.
Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Our American culture is very rational and very successful. But, is it being blessed? Is it glorifying God, or rather, glorifying men and women?
Our primary vocation is to holiness – priests, consecrated vowed, married vowed, single. To be holy is to spread the Easter message, and glorify God. The only way to do that is to be faithful and accept worldly failure.
It’s good to be recognized as a success. The Diocese will be bringing in a healthy number of new seminarians in the fall, and we should be increasing our numbers. That is success! But being faithful doesn’t always mean personal successes; only sometimes does that happen. However, when we are faithful and willing to accept a Cross from the Father, then Jesus’ victory shines through.
Isn’t that what being a Catholic, being a Christian, is all about?
Vocation Monstrance blessed by Blessed John Paul II at St. Joseph/Bread of Life Parish, Erie all this week. Eucharistic Adoration is in the Daily Chapel. Get the details at www.eriercd.org/seminary.asp.