Do you think Jesus would recognize his Church? I mean, if he came back today, would he just shake his head in disgust and say.... No no no... You got it all wrong!?
At times, we might be tempted to believe that. Folks outside the church are quick to point out all of our faults... Yeah, we admit, we have faults. Any organization with humans in it will fall victim to human ‘wills’ and human pride and human greed….in the end, we are gonna mess up... You might say, it's our destiny. So get over it. Jesus KNEW that when he started the Church with a group of fallible human apostles. He Knew from the beginning where we would be today… and where we are all headed. He knew that because of ‘trajectory’. You know what this is don’t you?...
Say I take this nerf gun and aim it like this…(yes…I had an actual nerf gun in church J). Where is the bullet going to land? Will it land over there? Will it hit the ceiling? We know instinctively that if we point it this way and it fires correctly, it’s going to land right over there. If we were NASA engineers, we could calculate the initial velocity, acceleration, vertical rate of ascent, the gravitational pull, the increase in speed as it descends… lots of variables go into calculating a trajectory… but if we know all the variables, we can know where it’s gonna land – AND – every point in between here and there.
Now – could we do the same for God’s Church? See, when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, they put humanity on a trajectory toward hell. They call that the “fall” of Adam, because up to that point, God had humanity pointed UPWARD, to be with Him. But the fall made the angle of the nerf gun drop… straight down. We all sin, so we all deserve to die. Without some outside force to CHANGE our trajectory, that’s our destiny.…it’s a foregone conclusion. Fortunately, Jesus came and set in motion a series of events which started the building of His church… and in doing so, He changed our trajectory back to where it was supposed to be. (raise nerf gun)
God laid the cornerstone of his Church: Jesus – the stone which the builders rejected. In other words, the Israelites – the people who were SUPPOSED to be in CHARGE of building God’s Church,... They REJECTED Jesus… and HE was the chosen cornerstone of the Church. He then laid a different foundation – upon the Apostles. He PURPOSELY started the Church with the intention of having humans run it. It’s very fitting that Wednesday was the feast of St. Matthias… you may not know much about him, but we read in Acts that the Apostles decided that Judas needed to be replaced, so they chose Matthias – and they laid hands on him, which still today is the sacramental sign that the power granted to them directly from Jesus is being handed on. We see the same thing today in the first reading – and I’m particularly partial to this reading… anybody notice why? Remember the story… the apostles said they needed help – so they chose seven men – the first one being Stephen…and they laid hands on them. In other words, they handed on their apostolic authority. Who or what were these men? Deacons. Arguably, the first Deacons of the Church. Did Jesus intend for HIS church to have Deacons? I would say yes! Like I said before, he knows all the variables in the calculation, so he could predict the trajectory his Church would take. The Holy Spirit led the Apostles to choose Matthias – just like today the Spirit led them to choose these 7 deacons. We are all part of the expected trajectory. We’re all stones in the walls... part of the Church built on the foundation of the apostles.
Did you notice that last line in the Gospel –
“whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these”
I wonder... Is that true? How many of you have raised someone from the dead? Cured a blind man? Anybody walked on water in the last week? Well – it looks like Jesus was lying! Actually – the word for ‘greater’ in this context actually means closer to ‘More’. In that context, we HAVE fulfilled his prophecy: our church HAS been able to do the same works as Jesus and even greater! He fed the 5000, which was a miracle, no doubt... But today, thru his church, he feeds more people, clothes more people, houses more people, Educates more people, and cares for more people than any organization on the planet.... EVER.
Is THAT the church that Jesus had in mind? I say... Sure... Why not!? The church today is the result of the trajectory it was placed on when He picked the first stones to start building.
It actually reminds me of when I was ordained a Deacon. Have you ever been to an ordination? At one point, and this happens at a Priesthood ordination as well, the candidate lies down in the middle of the aisle face-down. Kinda like a stone... Lying on the ground waiting to be chosen to be placed into the wall.
It’s a sign of surrender. It’s a sign of humiliation. It’s a sign that this man’s life is about to take a whole new trajectory. And as I read the second reading, I could imagine praying this prayer while lying on the floor…. And I suppose every one of us could pray this prayer:
Jesus – make ME a living stone.
Use me as a stumbling block to make other people stumble so you can catch their attention. Let people see You when they see me. Use me as a stone to build your church. Set me back on course now… set MY trajectory… set OUR trajectory… so that we can all live in the Joy you offer us in this life, ...and be with you in Heaven one day… our destiny.