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May 1, 2022: Third Sunday of Easter - Associate Pastor’s Corner

“Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: ‘To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.’” –Revelation 5:13

Some things are just really hard for us to imagine.  Astronomers calculate that the universe is 13 billion years old and contains about 1080 particles.  Now, I have a very hard time imagining a million of something, let alone a billion, or 1080, but at least “very big” is a close enough approximation to these numbers.  But some things are much harder to imagine.  For example: what was it like for Jesus, being both God and Man, to die on the cross and then rise from the dead?  I don’t even know how to start imagining that, so its much easier to call it the Paschal Mystery.  And yet, despite the failure of our imagination to do justice to God’s act of revealing Himself to us, He has in fact chosen to do so and so we should not just throw up our hands in defeat, but try our best to take in what God has to say. 

St. John the Evangelist faces a similar situation when he is given a vision of heaven and of what is to come.  In the book of Revelation, he tries to describe the indescribable: every creature, every created entity, everything in the universe shouting out together the same acclamation.  That’s quite a concert, far louder than our organ with all the stops pulled out!  And what are they shouting out?  They are expressing the absolute goodness, glory, and blessing that come from knowing in the core of their being the reality of the Paschal Mystery.  Now we see it dimly, as in a mirror, then we shall see Him face to face. 

Now, just like St. John, we do not experience this reality all the time; in fact we spend the vast majority of our lives catching only a few glimpses of this reality.  Much like the sun, which is hard to look at directly, but which illumines the whole world, so the glory of God fills the whole world but is hard to look at directly.  This is not a problem with God, but rather a limit of our own perception.  So how can we enhance our vision so that our whole being cries out “blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever?”

Firstly, the more time we spend in prayer, in the presence of God, coming to know him in his Word, the more we will see his glory.  If you don’t look, you won’t see, and prayer is nothing else but a time we reserve for looking at the One who loves us.

Secondly, our vision is obscured by our attachment to sin, by our pride, and by our self-centeredness.  When we focus our attention on ourselves, we have a much harder time seeing Jesus, who is to be found hanging on the cross and in our suffering neighbor.  Paradoxically, it is when we are actively loving our neighbor that God is most visible in us.

Thirdly, on our own, we need help to see Jesus in his glory.  Just as the disciples at first do not recognize Jesus when he reveals himself to them after the Resurrection, so we too need Jesus’s help to recognize him, particularly in the breaking of the bread.  By participating in the liturgy at St. Dominic’s, we enter into the heavenly liturgy described by St. John.  I don’t remember my own baptism, but I am filled with joy at the Easter Vigil when I see the newly baptized being washed in the Blood of the Lamb!

Finally, do not be afraid to let your imagination run wild, knowing always that the goodness and glory of God far exceeds our puny speculative faculties.  As St. Ignatius would say “Find God in all things!”

~ Fr. Christopher Wetzel, O.P.

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