APRIL 22, 2012 Ė 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER; LUKE 24:35-40
EVERYTHING WRITTEN ABOUT ME IN MOSES AND THE PROPHETS MUST BE FULFILLED. †These words of the Risen Jesus, spoken to his closest collaborators in the ministry assigned to our Lord by his heavenly Father. Contain, beneath their surface meaning, a marvelous mysterious truth.† The hidden implications of this assertion of the recently risen and glorified Christ are momentous for us still today. Let us consider more closely what is revealed in this seemingly simple statement.
From all four Gospel accounts of the last several days of Jesusí life, there emerges a distinct picture of a variety of individuals who differed in position and in the part they filled in the arrest, trial, torture, and death of the man Jesus. He claimed to be the Fatherís special envoy and, in fact, to be his Son and equal to Him. These variously assorted characters were, unknown to themselves, united only in this respect that they were carrying out a divinely devised plan for the salvation of all the chosen children of God. Some were obviously hostile to the Savior, and aggressively manipulated matters to bring about his removal by his death. Such was the High Priest, Caiphas; others were friendly and sought to protect Jesus from the malice of his persecutors. Such were Nicodemus and, however ineptly, Peter. Each, acting from personal aims and influenced by their individual dispositions, freely influenced the events that resulted in the crucifixion of Jesus.† And yet, as Jesus asserts in todayís Gospel, though these men, as they made their free decisions, were unaware of it, they were in fact conforming to a hidden plan centuries before foreseen in its general outlines centuries before its realization by Moses and such prophets as Isaiah, Micha, and Jeremiah among others. God was operative all along the course of history in His unique way, in such a manner as to assure that the free choices, made by men of different values and character, unconsciously contributed to the fulfillment of the plan He had devised long before.
In this connection, it is a fascinating development that has taken place in the field of quantum physics that provides us with a clue as to the way in which God in His Providential care for our universe can intervene in a subtle manner while respecting the laws of nature. For there is persuasive evidence that at the subatomic level matter remains in some mysterious fashion indeterminate so that it displays its nature as consisting of waves when examined in one manner, but rather as particles when studied under in another fashion.† The paradoxical conclusion is that matter functions variously depending on the kind of interaction involved in a given event. In other words, there is a kind of obedience potential inherent in the very substance of all matter.† In some mysteriously natural way it is so constituted that it seems to have a flexibility of response that is open to external influence.
Analogously, our Lordís post-resurrection teaching in which he demonstrated to his apostles that the events of his arrest and subsequent sufferings and death, had a meaning all along that, paradoxically, were in fact elements of a victorious plan all along. The crucifixion and the activities associated with it,† far from being a sign of Godís absence and the failure of Jesusí mission, was under the Fatherís guiding influence in every detail.† The seemingly random nature of many events and the deliberate, free decisions of men, real and personal as they are, yet are subject to the powerful and judicious intervention of the God who alone can act in such a way as to effect the ultimate significance of historical events. He can and does give a transcendent meaning even to the free human acts.
Such a state of things is matter for the most attentive and marveling reflection on our part. For we, like the apostles, live through events that, on the surface of life, seem to frustrate all that Our Lord and his Church represent. In recent years the secularizing process that followed upon the Protestant revolution, has resulted in an increasingly divided membership of the believers. A number of the Protestant congregations have adopted such secular values and practices as are incompatible with the Gospels such as the ordination of women as priests and homosexual marriage. Gradually too the Catholic Church has been weakened by many who continue to call themselves Catholic though they profess moral practices consistently condemned by the Church through the centuries, such as abortion and artificial birth control that undermine the sanctity of human life at its origin. Most recently our present government has produced legislation that is nothing less than an open assault on our Catholic faith and practice.
Our Lordís words in the Gospel we have just heard give us firm assurance that, in spite of the very real hostility directed against the Church and way of life he founded and died for, in a hidden way, he remains the One who directs the course of history. He demonstrated by his resurrection that Godís plan of salvation cannot be thwarted by human malice and failure. The seeming success of the powers of evil has been shown to be but a test of faith that by his Cross and Resurrection the Lord Jesus has overcome not only human weakness and malice but death itself. At our Eucharist we celebrate this power that He alone possesses and we thank him for the assurance he gives us by our communion in him with all who put our trust in his great love.V