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The Greater Things of the Church

Jesus says at the very end of this Gospel passage that whoever believes in him will do the works that he does and will even do greater ones than those. Looking back at the four years that I have spent with you I have a lot of memories and incredible moments… but at the same time I don’t remember ever walking on water, or touching a blind person and giving them sight, or a funeral that I told someone to rise out of their casket and they complied. In fact, I don’t remember seeing any of you do such great works, although please correct me if I am wrong. After such a comforting Gospel about how Jesus is preparing a place for us so that where he is we also may be his words suddenly take a bit of a terrifying turn when he says that those who believe in him will do these great works… and we don’t have any stories of own. Have we failed to believe in Christ and see the Father in him?

Of course not, but to understand we have to take a look at the other readings we took into our hearts today. The second reading said that Jesus was a living stone chosen and precious in the sight of God, and that we too are living stones that build a spiritual house. We were called a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own. In this letter of St. Peter we hear that it is not us as individuals but us as the Church, us as individual and insignificant stones that come together to form something that is breathtaking. Jesus preached to a limited area around Jerusalem… but his apostles spread out to foreign lands to proclaim his name, and now the Church today shares the message of Christ in every nation and in every language. Think of how many acts of love or mercy or service or peace have been done by Christians in just the past day or two. As a Church we believe and we do great works.

And that Church calls each one of us to take up our small little part in its work. In the first reading we saw the twelve apostles finding themselves overwhelmed with caring for the needs of the community, so they took seven men filled with the Holy Spirit and made them the first deacons of the Church. Their task was just to care for the widows and the needy of the community, nothing dramatic, nothing that you or I couldn’t do ourselves if we were asked. All of us have been asked by the Church to be something in this community, large and small, permanent and temporary. Many of you have been asked by the Church to be married couples, to let the grace of your sacrament shape your lives as you strive to be a living image of the realness of love and a symbol of the love that Christ has for the Church. That’s a pretty large task. Perhaps you were asked to be a server, or to be an usher, or any of the other roles that help all of us to pray the mass. Or maybe you have been asked just that essential and holy task of praying, of being the mind and the heart of the Church itself lifted up to the Lord that we might never be separated from him.

So have you done the works of Christ and even greater ones than those? Yes, you have. You as the Church, you as the sacred people of God, you as the individual living stone, you have helped great things take place.

Published inHomilies