Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on our attitude of being Church. What is the primary purpose of the Church? Is the Church just for us to go to heaven? Listen to this podcast of his reflection for the 7th Sunday of Easter to find out. Please read Revelation 22:12-21. For Text, “Read More” below. #GreatCatholicPreaching #Catholic #BenU1887 #GreatPreaching #Revelation22 #Urgent #Apocalypse #Sermons #Homilies
For Benedictine University and MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 5/12/2013The 7th Sunday of Easter.
Please pause this audio and read the Book of Revelation 22:12-21.
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
I have been told that when it comes to religion, we live in such a laid back nation that if Jesus were to come at 2:00 p.m., he would just have to wait around until 2:30 for the faithful to arrive. I think when it comes to the church, every church I have ever served has had the urgency of Jesus coming on the late person’s time schedule. We, in the Church, don’t seem to have any urgency about what we are doing.
Jesus says to us in the Revelation to St. John of Patmos, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Do these words give us any sense of urgency about what we are doing here? Or, do we really know what we are doing here?
It would be interesting to poll people as to what they thought the purpose of being the church is.
I am pretty handy around the house, if I may say so myself, and there are tools in a tool box for many purposes. Each one has a specific purpose. We really shouldn’t use the tools we have in our tool box for other jobs than that which they are designed. When we use the tools for what they are supposed to be used for, then the job is usually done much better.
I have a friend who is a great guy. He is the kind of fella that will help you with most anything. He will plan his weekend to help with a project at your house, as long as you have food and a cooler full of beer. But, my friend has a limited toolbox.
I remember when I wanted to learn how to change the oil in my mom’s car, my friend volunteered to help me learn. So, I drove my mom’s car over to his house. We used the jack which came with the car to jack up the car high enough for us to get under it. Then we put about 10-15 thick boards underneath the car, in case the jack gave out–a comforting thought. Then we got underneath the car and we used a pair of pliers instead of a wrench to get the plug out of the oil pan and drain the oil. Then we used a screwdriver, instead of an oil filter wrench, to take off the oil filter. We rammed the screwdriver through the oil filter to get the oil filter off and replace it. I remember when we did this, there was oil everywhere. The whole affair took about an hour and a half, including the clean up. When we got done, my friend smiled, popped open the top of a beer and said, “Good enough.”
Now, my problem with all of this is that changing your oil should not take more than 15-20 minutes in the driveway. My friend put us in great danger by using the jack from the manufacturer to lift up the car. Those jacks are only supposed to be used to change tires, where you are next to the car, not under it. Today, when I am changing the oil, I drive my car up on ramps specifically designed to hold the car up.
When we took off the oil plug with a pair of pliers, we stripped the plug. The next time I went to change the oil, I had to have a mechanic remove the plug and then buy a new one to replace it.
When we put the screwdriver through the oil filter, it took pounding after pounding to get that screw driver through the metal outside of the oil filter. The whole time the car shook and could have been pulled off of that jack. If we had a filter wrench, which I now use, we could have just turned the filter with a firm twist and had it off in a minute or two. Yeah, it was good enough and it got the job done, but it wasn’t done right. We didn’t use tools for their intended purpose and it caused us to not to do the job the way it was intended to be done. that just made more work for us in the end.
My friends, I think sometimes we look at the church as a tool with personal purposes. We may think that the church is there only for us and our own families to receive the sacraments. We may think that the church is there only for fellowship. We may think that the church is only there to lift us up through hard times. We may think that the church is there to make us feel good about ourselves. Now I cannot deny that these are outgrowths of the church. But these are not the primary purpose of the church.
In short, the church does not exist for us, it exists for God. Our purpose is to believe that Jesus Christ is THE Lord and Savior who takes away the sins of the world. Our purpose is to worship him because he has done this great thing for us. Our purpose is to introduce other people to Christ so that they can be the beneficiaries of the salvific work of the Cross.
Included in that final part of the church’s primary purpose is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Our primary purpose includes introducing people to a life lived in relationship with Christ, most evidently found in the Eucharist. Our primary purpose includes introducing people to the worship of Christ as a way of life. Our primary purpose includes teaching people how to live a life in service to Christ so that when Jesus comes and says, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done,” there will be many who will rejoice, because their lives have been lived full of good works that spring from a faith-filled devotion to God.
To do that, we must have a sense of urgency. We must have a sense that what we are doing in our Churches is important. We must have a sense that what we are doing is necessary to be shared with the world. We must have a sense of urgency that people need to know Jesus Christ, not just to make their lives better, but to save their souls from eternal death.
Why would we even talk about such a politically incorrect thing as people needing to be saved from eternal death? Why would we meddle in people’s personal lives? We talk about it because we love the world as Jesus has taught us to love the world. We ought to have a sense of urgency that causes us to leave behind some activities in our lives and devote more of our time and energy to the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
Many years ago, Caleb and I were talking as we often did. he said, “Sometimes, I just wish Jesus would come so that we could worship him without all of the evil and pain in this world.” Then he said this, “The only reason I don’t want him to come is because of all those people who would be left out.”
Popular philosophy has shot down Christianity for being too exclusive. It says that we leave people out. I disagree. In a long passage in Romans, where St. Paul tells us how sinful we are, he goes on to say this, “Did you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2.4) This time, the time of the church active in the world is meant for people to be introduced to the life changing power of Christ and then their incorporation into the worshiping, fellowshiping and serving body of Christ. This time is God’s act of mercy. This is the time for us to go and gather everyone, without exclusion, before Jesus comes again and says, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
It is not the desire of the church that anyone be left out. It is our desire that all people be included in the beautiful description of what life is going to be like in the New Jerusalem, the City of God at the end of time as we know it. But, if we believe that Jesus is just another god, with a small ‘g’, then there is no use in evangelism or inviting anyone to church. If we understand Christ as one of many options, then there is no salvation in Christ and Christ alone. There is no urgency.
So, what is it with us?
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Do these words have any urgency for us? Do they cause us to cry out as those who came before St. John the Baptizer did, ‘what shall we do?’
We may think that this world has become too enlightened, too smart, too intelligent to believe that there is a need for spirituality. That, I believe is not true as well. A family member one time came to me with a little bag of rocks. He told me one rock was for power, one rock was for happiness, one rock was for wisdom. He believed that these things had power, if he held them and meditated with them in his hand. His was New Age Religion.
They are right about one thing, they are right that God does work through the physical, but the rocks themselves have no power to do anything. But he has perceived a great truth, that God works through the physical. The New Age movement has grasped onto this truth, but denied the power of God. But my point is that they have tapped into our natural inclination for spirituality.
But what do we do? We have been given the bread and cup of the Eucharist, through which we have been promised that Jesus is made known to us. Yet, according to surveys that have been done, we are said to believe that there is not much going on there. It is just a symbol, the poll of American Catholics says. What are we saying when we say that? We are saying to people, there is nothing going on there.
I refuse to believe it. I refuse to believe that our God, the one true God is not able to take common bread and common wine and work through them to change us. In a world that would accept the notion that there is power in holding a rock and chanting, why would it seem such a crazy thing for us to believe that our God, the one true God, is able to come to us as the bread and the cup? Why is it hard to believe that he would condescend to put himself in the palm of our hand or be tasted on our lips?
There is something happening in the Eucharist. It is God who is doing it. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who is calling us to go out from our walls to proclaim the mystery of how Jesus saved each of us from our sins. Our faith in Christ moves us to live lives full of good works that praise his holy name. In doing so, when he comes and says, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done,” we will rejoice because the reward has come and our battle is over.
How is it that we can know that there is a saving life changing power of Christ, watch the Nightly News and not have a sense of urgency? How can we walk through our Cities where the deadly sin of sloth is so prevalent and not have a sense of urgency? How is it that we can look at how our communities are divided from other communities by race or region even though Jesus has died for all people, regardless of the color of their skin and not have a sense of urgency?
I do, friends. I have a sense of urgency. I can no longer think that the world is going to be able to save itself. It cannot. St. Augustine said, “Without us, God won’t. Without God, we cannot.” We should repeat that over and over again: “Without us, God won’t. Without God, we cannot.”
So, who do you know that is not coming to Church? Who do you know that needs to know the peace of Christ spoken about in the Gospel of John this Easter Season? What are you going to do about them? Jesus says today in the book of Revelation, as he looks into your eyes deeply, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done,” they will say, “Come! Lord Jesus!” Amen? Amen.
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