Amidst all the horrors this pandemic has wrought is the blessing of people doing the saving work of Christ. Jesus told us this is how he would remain with us while he was entering his glory.
Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it. (John 14: 12-14)
Today he’s answering our prayers in the form of first-responders—doctors, nurses, police, firemen, and all others who help those in need. Even before we knew Corona was something more than a beer, such people dedicated themselves to saving people—including those who are sometimes too drunk or otherwise compromised to know they need saving. Such instruments of God’s will have always been with us, even way back when David was writing psalms about how God makes himself known to us. Take this excerpt from the psalm cited by Christ’s rock, Peter, in Sunday’s first reading (Acts 2:14, 22-33):
I saw the Lord ever before me, with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted; my flesh, too, will dwell in hope, because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.
That joy can cut through the thickest fog of despair humanity often hides behind as a result of our own faulty behavior. Jesus died to save us, both despite our faults and because of them. He knew we were created to strive for the perfection he modeled for us. Peter’s denial that he knew his Master would eventually be the inspiration he needed to promise Jesus that he would continue nourishing his lost sheep. In Sunday’s second reading (1 Pt 1:17-21) Peter reminds us we are often more like the sheep of man than the Lamb of God:
You were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb.
It’s easy to see Peter in all of us, but it’s not always easy to recognize Jesus in each other. His own disciples didn’t even realize the risen Christ was right alongside them as they were discussing the extraordinary circumstances they just lived through. Sunday’s gospel reading (Lk 24:13-35) shows Jesus giving them a virtual slapping back to their senses and a reminder of the recognition he DID receive from the Old Testament prophets who never even laid eyes on him:
“Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.
While we’re all suffering through a time when it sometimes seems God has abandoned us, let’s take a closer look at the people who’ve dedicated their lives to helping us through such times. Once you do, you’ll soon recognize in them the one who promised to be the answer to our prayers.