Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
by Father Michael Savelesky, for the Inland Register
(From the Sept. 8, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
How many times each day do we ask ourselves: What time is it? And how many times are we (especially parents of small children) asked that same question? We respond in the language of minutes and hours.
Minutes and hours, however, are not the only way to measure the passage of time. In a sense, they are but artificial and arbitrary ways of surrounding our personal lives with purpose.
The Gospel according to John gives us a different angle on the marking of time. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus speaks of his “hour” which has not yet come. During his ministry, he looks toward his “hour,” during which the glory of God will be made manifest. Toward the end of the Gospel, when the sundial marked the third hour of the afternoon, Jesus’ “hour” comes. He offers the gift of himself to the Father with his last breath, and dies.
In death, Jesus gave witness to his complete faithfulness to the call of God in his life which, despite his personal rejection and misunderstanding, led to life in Resurrection. His hour is not a point in time, but a time of truth and fulfilment. For Jesus, his hour is a time of radical faithfulness to who he is for us as Saviour of the World. When the chips were down, he continued to live from the truth of his love for us.
Discipleship with Jesus is an invitation to share in his hour. It is a call to become one with him in his life and ministry. Such a call is far more than a summons to follow the example of a deeply dedicated man. When the disciple becomes one with the suffering of Jesus, he or she is one with the Lord’s hour of glory.
Even before his own passion and death, Jesus invites his disciples into this kind of union with him. At the Last Supper, he promises the Spirit to those who follow him. When the “hour” comes in the life of the disciples – when they are being pressed and persecuted for their faith – Jesus promises to be one with them through the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit will be a paraclete, a court defender of sorts, who will show the true quality of the disciple.
Very few of us (if any) will be put to death for our faith. Nevertheless, this does not mean that our hour will not come. Our “hour” for giving witness to our faith in Jesus Christ comes most frequently in quiet and often subtle ways. That time comes whenever we are asked by time and circumstance to live from the truest part of our being, that place where God seeks union with us.
This manifestation of our truest self may come when we least expect it. It may come in small ways and large. But when indeed it comes, Jesus reminds us that we are not alone. The Holy Spirit, the promise of the Risen Lord, is with us to be our defence.
In a culture and era when Christian faith can no longer be taken for granted, the hour which comes to the genuine disciple of Jesus will be more manifest. It will call for spiritual strength and courage. Men and women of business will face questions of integrity. Parents will encounter the need to stand fast with their loving discipline of children. Children will be required to deny drugs and irresponsible sexual activity. Laity and clergy alike will need to speak out against injustice in the world.
All of these are manifestations of the Christians’ hour. None of them represents a popular stance. In fact, to be in this kind of hour will bring persecution and accusation (some of it in the name of God!). Yet, time and place give this kind of particular shape to the hour for us. Christian faith is at odds frequently with the values and ways of the world. It always has been. It always will be.
When women and men of faith are pressed – as they so frequently are nowadays – there is even greater need to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit in us and in the rest of the Church. Now is the hour of faithfulness for the follower of Jesus.
(Father Savelesky is pastor of Assumption Parish in Spokane. His book, Catholics
Believe, is available from Harcourt Religion Publishers.)
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