June 26, 2013
The God We Recognize
by Friar Jim Van Vurst, O.F.M.
Every once in a while (quite often, actually) there is a single word used in the Gospel that helps us understand our lives. One such word occurs in Mark's Gospel regarding one of the towns along the shores of Lake Gennesaret, also called the Sea of Galilee. We hear some of those towns named Capernaum, Bethsaida, Magdala (where Mary Magdalene was from), and Tiberias. Capernaum was Jesus’ headquarters—a place he left a number of times for his preaching and healing ministry.
Mark 6:53-56 says that when Jesus got out of the boat, “people immediately recognized him. They scurried around about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick. . . .” It is the word recognized to which I am referring. And once they know it is Jesus, the Gospel uses the word scurried to describe people’s response. No question, Jesus had been there before.
'To Know Again'
When we recognize somebody, whether friend or enemy, our feelings are touched in some way. The more important such a person is to us, the deeper and more powerful those feelings are. Remember when you were in love and you saw your fiancé coming to you after he or she had been away for some time? Did your heart not skip a beat or two?
There is a most powerful moment when Jesus’ disciples recognized him. It’s when the two disciples were walking to Emmaus after Jesus’ death. They were almost hopeless. Then Jesus met them, talked with them, and broke bread with them. With that, they recognized him and said, “Were not our hearts burning [within us] when he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Lk 24:32). That must have been the most wonderful moment in their lives.
Love without Barriers
I have something truly wonderful to tell you, my readers. We will have a moment when we have completed our journey on earth and, in the twinkling of an eye, enter the realm of eternity. Something indescribable will occur. First, of course, we will see God. But we will also be greeted by and reunited with all our loved ones who went before us. Imagine the reunion with parents and children, mother and father, husband and wife, brother and sister. Talk about “recognizing” our loved ones!
Some might wonder whether we will recognize one another. Won’t things be different? Won’t everyone look different? Oh, there will be a difference, but it will be only a positive one. Why? Because healing takes place when we enter into eternity and see God face-to-face. If we think we loved each other while on earth together, there are no words to describe the perfect love we will have for one another because of seeing God and realizing we will be together with him and each other for eternity.
It’s love without any barriers. As St. Paul expressed it: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (I Cor 2:9).
Dear Rose, Jackson, and Teresa: I am pleased that you found my thoughts on St. Francis and the leper a helpful reflection regarding your daily lives. To all of you, far and near, I pray for your health and peace of mind. Friar Jack
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