In the words of St. John’s Gospel heard at Mass this Sunday, “I will take you to myself, so that where I AM, you also may be.” What Christ tells his disciples is not that he will remove us physically from the world, but by his action and our response, draw us into himself now and eternally. Christ did not appear to establish an evacuation plan to liberate us from reality. On the contrary, reality—God’s creation—is good, and ordered by God for the good of all creatures. In faith-union with Christ we experience the power, the life-giving, the immortalizing presence of the One who is—free of the limitations of time and space, free from death. In reality God’s creating power is ever at work. In the concise formulation of Thomas Aquinas, “Grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it.” Grace is the free, uncaused presence of God at work in us who open
ourselves to God through faith. As we open our hearts and minds to God as Jesus did, we become graced, or “sharers in the divine nature.” Surely Christ Jesus does not abandon us, but perfects us, to the extent that we willingly and freely cooperate with his Spirit at work.
Hearing the Gospel with faith, as we do when we listen attentively at Mass, God is reaching into our hearts and minds by the word of Christ, and moving us to turn toward the unseen God, and live in his light and peace. Flooded by the presence of the Resurrected Christ, we are do indeed become the body of Christ in the world, and bearers of God’s wisdom, peace, and joy to one another. Even as we know our limitations and weaknesses, God work’s his strength through us as instruments of his deifying presence. “In everything God works for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.” Alleluia