God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:20-23
I have spent time pondering what the Lord wants our world to look like. A world where His “will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This is a world of union with the trinity, which, in turn, creates union with creation. Adam and Eve had this before they fell. Mary is the new Eve. Jesus the new Adam. What does this world look like? Scripture shows us;
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people. Matthew 4:23
Of course Jesus, as the second person of the Blessed Trinity is God, so it is no surprise that he can heal and cure. But Jesus tells his disciples that they will do greater things than even he did, so this unity is something that God wants to bring back to all of us.
Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12
So what is wrong with the world today? Why don’t we see this unity which begets miracles? It is still because of corruption and sin. We look to other idols to cure us, when in reality all we are doing is managing our sin. And as humans, working in our own pride, we haven’t done a good job of managing it. Disease and sickness are in the world because of sin. The confessional is the place we purge of sin, yet we spend more time at the doctor than in the confessional.
Don’t get me wrong, we actually do need the doctor. Why? Because sin isn’t just something you do personally, others sin too, and when they sin it affects the entire body. Sometimes we are suffering the consequences of someone else’s sin, even from generations ago, and that is not something we can control, so we manage it. Corruption is so far and so deep, it would take an act of God to purge the world of it. God has allowed us ways to manage what is going on, but have we made this management our God? Are we even turning to God?
Jesus came to show us how to overcome sin and be purified. He took on all the sin. But there was a path to that. It was a path to the cross. Whenever Peter wanted to tell Jesus not to go to the cross, Jesus rebuked him.
From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Matthew 16:21-23
We as a people will be purified when we look like Christ. This is why the church herself must walk this Passion. In between where we are now and a world of true union with the Trinity is the Cross the church must take on.
Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh. Catechism of the Catholic Church 675
We can do this individually, this purging, but it is something the Body of Christ is called to as a whole.
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready;
to her it has been granted to be clothed
with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. Revelation 19:6-8
When you think about this purification that will “shake the faith of many believers“, you can’t help but think of the faith of the Apostles being shaken when Jesus took on his Passion. Judas betrayed, Peter lied, Thomas doubted, most ran and hid. They wanted a different Messiah and trusted in their own expectations of what that was, and when it didn’t pan out, everything seemingly crumbled.
There was one Apostle whose faith wasn’t shaken, that was John. He rested in the bosom of Jesus. He stood at the foot of the Cross. He was the only one who wasn’t martyred. He seemed to have fully surrendered to the will of God before the crucifixion. In short, John expected nothing except what God wanted and it enabled him to surrender to the will of God without losing faith while everything was crumbling around him. We can ponder what happened at the foot of the Cross, and John’s example.
My friend Ashley spoke of John as being “grafted” into the Holy Family. Grafting is a technique that joins two trees or plants into one. This is done by creating a wound in the rootstock of one tree and the other is inserted into that wound so each tree’s tissues can grow together. Grafting is used to make a tree “grow true” and is meant to stay true to the line from which it came. When Jesus turns to John and says, “Woman, behold your son, and to the disciple, Here is your mother,” (John 19:26) John is incorporated into the Holy Family. John is the tender young tree that is grafted to the rootstock of Christ. He is implanted into the wounds, or Sacred Heart of Jesus, at the crucifixion. From the very wounds of the Tree of Life, John becomes kindred to Mary, and as such spends the rest of his life on earth as a member of the Holy Family.
St John’s union with the Holy Family brought a fourth heart into the Holy Family; the heart of the beloved. And perhaps this is why he appeared at Knock, Ireland with the Holy Family. Heaven was trying to tell us something. That the men who can say, “behold the Lamb of God” to us can form us into the family God intended for us.
The priest that embraces the cross instead of running from it, the priest that takes Mary fully as his Mother, this priest is kindred to the Holy Family. When he brings the Eucharist, the lamb, the crucified Christ, the Divine Child, to his flock he can help graft us into this family as well so we can all be beloved hearts. This is about the power of the Priesthood, the Holy Family, and the purification of our sin as the Body of Christ, the Bride.
We are so far away from this unity that God had planned for us. Our leaders run from the cross and embrace idols choosing to follow secular forces instead of Divine ones. As a people we have fled from the confessional justifying our sin at every turn and judging others with no mercy. Just glance at social media and you see there is no mercy.
We have so many idols, so many attachments, so much corruption. We aren’t even aware of the level of corruption so there is no way we could save ourselves. We need a savior. We turn to science, counseling and various types of secular healing in our sin management instead of to God who could take away our sin. We call evil good and good we call evil. Science, counseling and other various things aren’t necessarily bad, but they’re not God.
We are at a precipice. It is one of choosing to surrender to the will of God – which means picking up our cross and following him. This will look different for each of us and hear me when I say – it is so important not to judge the decisions others make, for all of us are at different points on this journey. God works all things for the good of those who love him. Remember that Peter, Thomas, and the other Apostles, save for one, are also Saints, and that God filled them with His glory even though they didn’t fully surrender until after the crucifixion. God loved them as he loved John, they were all beloved. But if we want to be filled with the glory of God we have to have the humility to surrender our expectations and our sins. It is in humility that glory is found.
I ponder how far away I am from what God wants for me. I tell God I can see the world he wants and I see the cross in between where I am and where he wants me, and I ask Him to take away my fear of that part of the journey. I ask God at every Mass to fill me with Himself.
I also pray for Priests everyday. It is through them I have access to Christ, but also to the Holy Family. It is through them I have received Sacramental grace, sanctifying grace. Pray for your Priests to be grafted to the Holy Family so that you yourself can be as well.
This is a time of purification. Move forward in fortitude and trust. Ask Saint John and the Holy Family to help you persevere.