I’ve spent my secular career, my “day job,” if you will, in the technology business. I was a “computer geek” long before it was considered cool. I got my first PDA in 1980. That was more than 20 years before the first Blackberries came to market. So that should give you some idea how much I like to be on the leading edge. I would imagine that some of you do too. Do you realize that this thing even has an app for praying the Rosary? I guess there’s an app for just about everything.
Now, I realize that in First Century Israel, reading and writing were leading edge concepts. Even so, we could say that The Apostles were somewhat ahead of their time, too. After all, some of them, at least Matthew and Judas, could read and write, but they were ahead in other ways as well.
In Genesis (12:1-4), we know that the Lord, God the Father, speaks directly to Abraham. This isn’t the kind of relationship that we’re accustomed to. For most of us, communication with God is one way. (I suppose some of us do occasionally hear a real answer back from God, but that’s the exception, not the rule) In Abraham’s (or Abram as he was known then) case, this is a real back and forth conversation between God and himself.
Abram had been a good follower. He had obeyed the commands he was given by God, had been a good provider for his family, and even treated those who worked for him with compassion and love. God recognizes Abram’s loyalty and promises to make his descendants, his children and grandchildren, if you will a great nation. This would be a bold promise to anyone, but to Abram, it should seem almost impossible. After all, he is a very old man, several hundred years according to this scriptural account. His wife is nearly as old, and they have never had children. The result is that they are ashamed. You see, in those days, a couple who didn’t have children was considered to be cursed by God. So it would be easy to understand why Abram might be a little skeptical. Nonetheless, he trusts that the Word of The Lord is good and that what was promised will be delivered, and if we were to read on for a few more verses, we would read about the birth of Isaac, and the fulfillment of the first link in the promise of The Messiah.
Now let’s flash forward a millennium or so to what we refer to as First Century Israel. We find Peter, James and John, partners in a fishing business, accepting an invitation from Jesus to join Him in the desert. Perhaps they see this as an opportunity to gain some wisdom, maybe just a chance to kill some time before they have to go back to work. What happens next is nothing at all, if not truly remarkable.
They see Jesus, standing with the two greatest figures of Judaism, Elijah and Moses. Then the voice of The Father resounds, identifying Jesus unequivocally as the Son of God. This revelation comes, not to a High Priest, not to a Pharisee, not even to a temple official, but to a couple of fishermen. If a Great Lakes fisherman walked in here right now and told you that he had seen the Son of God, would you believe him? I didn’t think so. Neither would I. So when Jesus asks the disciples not to say anything, even a “loose lip” like Peter has no problem with that. What’s more remarkable is that they were willing to tell the story, even after The Resurrection. We should thank God that they did. This story tells us three things.
First, it tells us that Jesus is the Son of God. That seems obvious to us, but to much of the world, even the modern world, it is nothing more than an interesting, perhaps not so interesting, fairy tale. We can change that.
Second, it tells us that Jesus is interested, not in the learned or the clever, or the rich. That would have been the easy way to get out the message, but instead He reveals His glory to some humble fishermen. Then he tells them to keep quiet about it, “Until what?” That’s the question that the disciples were asking themselves.
Third, it tells us that, now that the Son of Man has been raised, it needs to be passed on. If Peter, James, and John had kept this story to themselves, we would never know about it. If they had been embarrassed about what they knew, and they had good reason to be embarrassed, or even afraid, we wouldn’t know the glory of Jesus.
The good thing is that after Pentecost, after they received the Holy Spirit, they weren’t afraid to talk about it. They told anyone who would listen, and they told others, and still others wrote it down so that now we have the story. We can know Who Jesus is, and we know what He can do.
As Paul tells us in Second Timothy (1:8-10), this wasn’t easy. The obstacles and persecutions that Paul talks about become very real, very soon, but the graces that Paul talks about are alive. We have them today in the sacraments.
So yes, Jesus did and does have an app for that. It’s called community. The Apostles were a faith community that was willing to spread the message. They went on to form other communities, all through the known world at that time, and those communities spread the word to this, our own community.
So here’s the challenge. Can you think of good things that Jesus has done for you? Is there someone you know who needs to know about those good things that Jesus? You have the power. Send a tweet or an e-mail. Make a phone call. Better yet have a personal conversation about the good that Jesus has done in your life.
Will everyone be comfortable with that? Probably not. Will some people think you’re a religious fanatic, or, as they used to say when I was your age, a “holy roller”? Probably. Pray for those people that somewhere down the road, they’ll receive the message, but keep spreading it anyway. After all, if I had decided to keep quiet tonight, someone who needed to know that Jesus is a part of his or her life, might not have heard it. By spreading the word, you can serve your neighbor, and bring forth the Kingdom of God.