May our Works Echo

John 14:6-14

There's been a certain rhythm or pattern through these readings from John over the last few days - you might even have felt that you're kind of hearing a sameness in the message each day.  But in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus says, "Whoever believes in me will do the works I do, and greater ones than these." What does he mean – greater than his? We see that by doing his works we create a ripple effect, allowing God’s love to echo to all those we touch, and beyond.

 

If we start with the basics: If we really do believe in Jesus, we want to be his apostles. The word "apostle" means "one who is sent." We want to be sent by Jesus to help others get to know him and experience his love.  Our faith drives us into ministry and outreach.  And Jesus gives us the power of his Holy Spirit so that we will be successful in that ministry and outreach.  So, what are we sent forth to do?

 

We may not always think of things in this context but, each of us has been assigned an apostolic mission by the Father.  Just as the Father accomplished his works through Jesus, so too does the Father desire to accomplish his works through each of us!  He has given every person here a set of talents and gifts that make each of us uniquely capable for our particular divine purpose in life.  Each of us also have training and experiences (both good and bad) that God wants to put to good use.

 

Everyone's mission requires a special combination of personality traits and spiritual attributes, right where we are in our lives, right here and right now– in our jobs, our homes, our relationships, our parish, and our neighborhood.  Because of the uniqueness that each one of us possess, he cannot accomplish your mission through anyone else but you!

 

Jesus said that if we believe in him, we will do the same works he did "and far greater than these." Through his humanity, Jesus did human works. These are the same works we do matter-of-factly as good people.

 

Human works include 1) loving each other, 2) sharing what we've been given, 3) listening to those who need someone to talk to, 4) offering a helping hand when we see a need.  But if we truly believe in him, rely on the Holy Spirit, and perform these loving acts of kindness in response to his loving outreach to us, these works in fact become greater works, as they echo beyond our field of vision.

 

If we are open to doing God's will in our lives, he will use our natural works, to turn them into supernatural works- the divine works of the Father.  Quoting from Mother Teresa, "Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

 

That quote had me thinking of my dad the other day as I was preparing this homily.  Though most of my early faith formation came from my mom, dad had a role in it too. I can always remember when it came for dessert and he was given multiple options, i.e. “Bill (my dad’s name), Do you want the pumpkin pie or the apple pie (or the chocolate of vanilla ice cream)?” His answer was invariably, every time: “Give me whatever you’re trying to get rid of”, and he meant it.  As I think about that, it was such a simple and easily overlooked response, but the self-less attitude that it embodied went way beyond food. It spoke to his character.  And that response, and others like it, (using Mother Teresa’s language) have truly echoed and are truly endless.  Years beyond my dad’s passing, his son, for one, has been known to echo that same response.

                                                     

In doing our human works well, we give Jesus to the world.  Through Jesus, we are united to the Father, and the Father extends himself to the world through us.  Here's another quote, this one from Robert F Kennedy.  It’s not necessarily a religious quote per se, but it speaks to the effect that each of us have in our small way, in our seemingly small works, to create greater works:

 

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.  It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.  And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy, daring those ripples build a current, can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

 

Let’s ask ourselves: How does the Father want to improve the world through us?  Like Jesus, we do supernatural works when we do the will of the Father.  We are called to be attentive to his instructions with open ears. Meanwhile, we need to dedicate (or rededicate) our gifts, our talents, resources, skills, and experiences to God for use in his kingdom.

 

So, let us pray today that the Holy Spirit will strengthen our virtues and empower our giftedness so that when others encounter us, they will experience 1) the human works of Jesus and, 2) the divine works of the Father. And may the echoes of those works be truly endless!

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