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Brothers and sisters, today's feast is a declaration that God is not done yet. He has more work to do in us. There’s more up His sleeve.
Everyone thought God was done working. That they knew His plans.
Jews thought that reaffirming the law in Moses was all that the Messiah was going to, because it seemed perfect in itself. They were wrong. God wasn't done yet.
The Pharisees thought the traditions of the Hebrews were all that was needed to gain eternal life. They were wrong.
The Zealots thought throwing out the Romans and establishing an earthly kingdom was enough. Guess what, they were wrong.
Disciples in upper room. Thought Jesus's mission was destroyed as a failure by His death, and that perhaps He was not the Christ after all, or somehow it was tragically sabotaged. They were wrong, because soon they would discover that God had more to His plan than they realized.
Christian disciples over the centuries have misunderstood God's ways and plans, and again and again they had to realize that God had something better in mind than they could have conceived. God had something else in mind.
If they were all wrong, why do we so often think that we know that God is done working?
No, my brothers and sisters, it is always ourselves who have the small picture of what God is doing.
Today is the definitive proof that God has bigger plans for us. Just when we think all is finished, all is lost, God restores us and conquers the greatest foe: death. We no longer have to be afraid of death! Think of all the things we fear: all of them boil down to a sort of death, an aspect of dying in one way or another. We are afraid of losing things, losing the goods of life. In Christ, we have already died and risen. "You were baptized into His death," Saint Paul tells us.
In Baptism, God begins his plan of a new creation within us, continuing the story of creation in Genesis. If you've ever seen a baptismal font with eight sides, or a baptismal room in the shape of an octagon, it is precisely to emphasize this truth. Even the north rose window of the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which this past week survived a fire that consumed the roof and tall spire, that rose window has a circle of eight panes, then 16, then 32, then 32, totaling 88. Eight, once again, is not a coincidence. It is seven plus one, for in Jesus' resurrection is the beginning of the new creation. God who created the world in seven days, now begins a new creation, an eighth day, wherein the new order of the universe is begun. In Christ, we start that new life, and the more we disappear into Him, the more we are truly alive to what God's full plans for us are.
In fact, there is another connection to today's feast that connects to the fire in Parish. Just as Notre Dame will be restored in the years to come, God in Christ has decided to rebuild fallen humanity. He does this as a whole, but also individually. In his cross we are all renewed. The sin of Adam is undone. Heaven is reopened. However, we ourselves must walk that path one bit at a time. In the church universal, which has itself experienced the great spiritual damage of egregious sins exposed this past year, God wishes to restore - not so much through huge financial donors, but through the hidden prayers of the faithful.
God wishes to restore us individually too. When you think your plans for life are good, ask God to show you His plans for you. Look at Christ this Easter Season: the one who as risen from the dead has ascended to heaven and sends the Holy Spirit into our hearts that we may be called sons and daughters of His heavenly Father. He takes our humanity into heaven and brings us into the communion of the Trinity! I guarantee your plans aren't that good. I hope you weren't thinking about winning the lottery or something. I know mine would never have been. I would have been pleased to have my sins forgiven. That would have been good. And be pastor here forever, which would be great, and has the added benefit of never having the responsibility of a bishop! Double bonus! =)
But seriously - In Jesus, God is saying, "your plans are too small. I want to restore you to something greater than you can imagine."
This year Passover fell on Saturday, just as it did in the Gospels on the year of Our Lord’s Paschal mystery. The message is the same now as it was then: while we rest, God is working his salvation for us.
No matter how bad life is going for you right now, and no matter how good your life seems to be, God wants to draw you to something much greater. Your response to Jesus is the deciding factor. Do not be afraid to take the plunge, to go all in, and to let God continue His new creation in you. He has more up his sleeve. There's more He desire to work in you. God is not done yet.