10. Salvation History Continued

You weren’t there with those who knew Jesus during his lifetime. But you were included, because the key to understanding the Christian faith is presence - the real presence of Jesus among his followers after his resurrection, until the end of time.

… the message which was a hidden mystery from generations and centuries and has now been revealed to his holy ones ... The mystery is Christ among you, your hope of glory. (Colossians 1:26, 27)

Through his resurrection he has passed into a new kind of existence that is not limited by time and place. He lives his life “in us”:

... the life I live now is not my own; Christ is living in me. I still live my human life, but it is a life of faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:19-20)

His life in us shows itself in ways that are reminiscent of Jesus of Nazareth:

In the community called Christian,
I find people of flesh and blood
and ordinary lives
living in expectation of meeting You,
undefeated by their personal failures
and by death itself.
I have watched their faces in quiet prayer
and in songs of joy;
I have felt humbled no less by their repentance
than by their faithfulness;
I have known their sacrifices,
been empowered by their serenity
and learned the reason for the hope
that is in them.
Their sureness is not based
on any success of their own
but on what they believe
You have done for them.
There is power in what they seem to know,
and all the more striking
because human nature is so weak.
I thank you, Father, for having revealed
great things to little ones.
In the community of those who live
now not they but Christ living in them,
I have seen frail human nature raised up
reaching heights of hope and depths of peace
which nothing in the world could give nor,
it seems, take away.
In their midst I come to know
that he who enabled the lame to walk
and the blind to see
and sinners to start again
is risen,
for that is what their lives proclaim.
And so I believe in Him in whom
they have placed their trust.

(P.J. Cullinane, I Believe Within the Church)

Whenever we see him like this, our faith in him is fresh again; re-freshed! It’s a bit like being at the tomb on Easter morning. After all, his resurrection cannot grow old, and his presence is now.

Jesus had told his disciples that they would see these signs of his power:

In all truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself, and will perform even greater works, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)

These “works” are what Jesus meant when he spoke about God’s “kingdom” as something “already present” - visible to those who have eyes for recognizing the style of Jesus of Nazareth.

Your relationship with God... isn’t added to a fully human life. It makes life more fully human.

This kingdom is not some kind of place. It is God’s saving power showing itself in people’s lives - God’s reign in our lives; salvation history continued. It shows in the kind of things that make you feel glad or deeply moved - sacrifices people make for others in need; the smiles of those who have been suffering; reconciliation between individuals who had hurt each other; the joys of faith and of faithfulness, of belonging and of being forgiven; and the beauty of truth itself - of whatever rings true.

Seeing God’s saving power often causes surprise, especially if we were not expecting to find it in our own life. Those moments when you know that what God wants is also what you yourself most deeply want, even if it is demanding; or when you experience a joy you can’t fully account for; or when you know with deep certainty that you can trust God; or you find yourself thanking God in spite of the darkness around you - all those moments are signs of God’s real presence in your own life. They lead to wonder, joy, thanksgiving, and trust. They bring life.

To see God in this way is to come alive. Your relationship with God is what makes your life more truly human. It isn’t added to a fully human life. It makes life more fully human.

The glory of God is human beings fully alive, and being fully alive is (comes from) seeing God.
(St. Irenaeus)

For Practice

  • Identify some signs of Christ’s presence in people you know.
  • Jesus often healed people and told them their faith had made them whole. Practice keeping the company of Jesus as someone you have complete faith in. Bring to him experiences that have left you hurt and in need of healing. Talk to him about them, and let him talk to you. Then leave it all to him.

For Prayer

Sing a new song to the Lord
who has done marvelous deeds,
whose right hand and holy arm
have brought salvation.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation of our God.
Shout to the Lord all the earth,
ring out your joy.

Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world, and all its peoples.
Let the rivers clap their hands
and the hills ring out their joy,

Before the Lord who comes
who comes to govern the earth,
to govern the world with justice
and the peoples with fairness.

Psalm 98:1, 3-4, 7-9