May 20, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day He was taken up to Heaven. This He did after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles [formerly disciples] He had chosen.” (Acts 1. 1-2)
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him; those who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8.28)
I want to take today’s reflection time to share the following “truth.” We are fast approaching a crisis of spiritual conscience as never before. This pertains to the work of Saint Luke, so designated by title due to papal decree, in the writing of his gospel of the Cross of Jesus the Christ and his gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ in the following way. We, as students of the Word, ought to remember that Luke wrote without any semblance of the gospel of John and his associated writings. In particular, Luke wrote twenty or even thirty years before John set his pen to paper under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Resurrected Jesus. Luke’s perspective on the “already but not yet” was different than that of John. Luke wrote with the fervor not of the persecution of the Church being justified by the return of Christ to judge the quick and the dead but of its spiritual impact on the world in which it existed in the mission field of the great commission. For Luke, the disciples were empowered at the end of the gospel of the Cross and, in reflection, the beginning of the gospel of the Church. There was no “end time” eschatology or apocalyptic discernment as if the “age of the Church” was coming to a close. Luke wrote with the intensity and commitment of the beginning and continuation of the “age of the Church.” In Luke’s day, the Church was maturing but not even yet an adolescent. The Church had not existed much more than forty or fifty years when Luke made his decision to write an apologetic to Theophilus, or for him. Luke, perhaps with no intention of doing so, includes every succeeding generation of disciples and seekers of the truth for eternal life. We are living in the age of the Church. When Matthew’s gospel is written and considered to broadcast, there is a meltdown already beginning to smolder into a flame. The close of Matthew’s gospel declares the resurrected Jesus blessed the commissioned ones with a promise of “Lo, I AM with you until the close of the age.” For Matthew and John, the end of the first century bore all the signs, markers and signatures of being that very time. Even though Luke writes in the epilogue of the gospel of the Church (Acts) “No one knows the time when the New Heaven, New Earth, New Israel will be established by Me”, we anticipate that that day will come. Until that day, we are called to be the Church: living, thriving, discipling and broadcasting Good News concerning the righteousness which comes from the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven.
Mighty ones of God, while we embrace the truth of Luke/Acts with the hopeful conviction and conversion of being a Theophilus, one who loves God and seeks God’s love, we must seriously consider that nearly two thousand years later, the “Age of the Church” may be coming to a close. I am no doomsayer nor am I a naysayer. I am called to be a “good news broadcaster.” It is with eyes wide open that I gaze upon the passage from Paul’s writing to the community of faith in Rome, or generically to the community of faith throughout the Roman Empire, posted above and alluded to yesterday. God does indeed work together all things for the good of those who call upon His Name and who are called by His Name. At that name, which is Jesus the Christ of God and Savior of humanity, the day will come when all people and all nations will “at the name of Jesus” bow down. They will bow down with mixed intentions and rising emotions. Some will proclaim fealty and others will feign it. All will be judged not by their “intentions” but by the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Those who honor His command and commission will be known by Him and find that all things have worked together for good. That good is the blessing of eternal life which we know “now in part but one day face to face…we will see as we are fully seen.” At that time, the “already but not yet” will become “now and forever.” But, in this inbetween time as we wait pro-actively for His return, we must be aware of the “signs of the times.” We may well be at the point of “no return,” where the events as prophesied are now not just another season to endure but a season of reckoning for a last time. We may be closer to Matthew’s and John’s “closure” of the age than Luke’s “enduring the beginning of the age” of the Church. We ought to look at the events as they are unfolding as harbingers of the “return of the King.” When He comes, it will not be all trumpet fare and Palm Sunday celebration. The Master returns to the land given to His trusted ones for an accountability. The gift of freedom is a blessing but it can be a curse. The difference lies in what each of us had decided in our own heart, mind and soul to be the spirit and truth of our worship of the One True and Only God.
It is time, as in no other, that we may be closer than we think. It is upon us to speak the truth and speak it in love. It must be the kind of love which the Father so declared in and through Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God and Messiah, as a “redeeming” love. It is not an enabling love. It is not an excusing love. It is not a get-along love. It is a redeeming, reconciling and recreating love as only the Father can inspire, initiate and integrate. It is the fulfillment of the intention which Jesus left for His followers in calling them “the Church.”
Are we ready to be a frontline Church?
TODAY’S PRAYER: Father God, You have favored us with good news to broadcast in word and deed into all the world. You have made it possible for us to accomplish that which You have given. We believe that You will not put more on us that we are able to do. Nothing shall be impossible for us as we commit ourselves to priority number one! We believe; help us in our unbelief. We ask this in the name of Jesus our Lord who was and is and will always be our Savior and our Friend. AMEN.