Greatest of All Time: Week 2
In the sports world, fans argue over who is the Greatest of All Time – the GOAT. This discussion spans across all sports, and the winner usually differs by decade. However, across all religions, Jesus is literally the Greatest of ALL Time since the beginning of time. There was no one greater before him, and there will be no one greater after him. He is truly undefeated.
Think about this; the Bible has 73 Books, about 1,189 chapters, and 31,173 verses. And although researchers say there are only 166 verses about Jesus, Christians know that the entire Bible is about Jesus. The Old Testament talks about the coming King. Christians understand that King is Jesus. And the New Testament details that King’s life, death, resurrection and his second coming. Christians know that Jesus has always been. He was around in the beginning.
The first chapter of the gospel of John says Jesus was there from the beginning. Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. His life is the light to all humanity.
If that does not make Jesus the greatest of all time, go down a few verses where the gospel writer tells us Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, and that we beheld his glory, full of grace and truth.
Can’t you hear the skeptics saying, “What? Christ was there in the beginning? Do you really believe that?” But not only was Jesus there in the beginning. He came from heaven, took the form of a baby, and grew up just like everyone else. He wasn’t born into a rich family, but he has made all who believe in him spiritually wealthy. He didn’t have medical degrees, but he is still the best healer the world has known. He never took a psychology class but many call him Counselor. The world has never had a greater teacher. Without snapchat, twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, Jesus has maintained a crazy number of followers. He has over 2.3 billion followers.
Wow!!! Greatest of All Time is an understatement. Not only did Jesus take human form, but he lived a sinless life for 33 years experiencing EVERYTHING humans experience, he was also God. Can’t you hear the skeptics saying, “GOD? You think Jesus is both Jesus and God? He is fully God and fully man? YES! We believe that.
Jesus told us that he and the Father are one. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, he says. If you have known me, you have also known my Father. If you have seen me you have seen the Father.
There are so many verses in the bible that confirm who Jesus is that no person should doubt. Great is not a strong enough word to describe Jesus, yet he is indeed the Greatest of ALL Time.
As the Greatest of All Time, Jesus thinks big, very big. He has big plans for you and me. But sometimes we think small. Thinking small is an ancient habit; for example, in the first reading, Moses appointed seventy elders to help him. The Holy Spirit comes down upon those seventy, but also upon two others not in the group. The seventy complain and want Moses to stop the other two. But Moses rebukes the seventy insiders because he recognizes the two outsiders as a sign of the Spirit working within them. The seventy, the official church people, hadn’t yet learned that “the Holy Spirit blows where the Holy Spirit wills.”
Something similar happened in the gospel. Jesus appointed twelve apostles to work his mission. Some others, outside those twelve, were healing people in Jesus’ name, which outraged the apostles. “Jesus,” they are thinking, “if you don’t stop them, we’ll lose control!”
They want confirmation from Jesus in this, but he rebukes them. What Jesus and Moses are saying is the mission of both Moses and Jesus presupposes that God, the Holy Spirit, is already at work in the world.
We are blessed to witness this when adults decide they want to be Catholic. They are not, outsider, empty vessels waiting to be filled by us insiders. The Holy Spirit and seeds of faith are already working in them. Jesus himself often turns to people his apostles saw as ‘outsiders’. He recognizes the faith at work in them. He tells them: ‘Your faith has saved you’. Most of these people do not fit the mold of what others thought of as fitting the mold or being a good fit into our group.
The bible teaches us that in all times and places the seeds of the faith are to be found. Then the function of the Church, that’s us, is to encourage those who show a curiosity about God, to help them develop their curiosity to the point where they seek Jesus.
All evangelization depends upon this model. The Word of God is sown in the minds and hearts of all sorts of people by God himself. It is activated by the Holy Spirit in baptism. It does not stop there. Those drawn into the fold of the Church, such as you and me, still want and need constant drawing into an awareness of the continuous presence of God in our lives. All of us should evangelize, and all of us should be regularly evangelized. This is what I mean by that.
I don’t know about you, but when it gets right down to it the reason why I am Catholic isn’t because of some priest, bishop or pope. I am Catholic because of the witness of my parents, family members, and friends who shared their love for the Lord with me. Not to downplay the influence priests, bishops, sisters, and popes can have, especially when they live their vocations faithfully. It is just that most people find their way into the Church because of the loving and faithful witness of a family member or a friend. I have a good friend, Steve, who I used to go to church with as a young adult. Honestly, many times I went because I knew we were going together. Maybe you have a similar story. We were evangelists to each other because we invited each other.
What would happen if we were all evangelists? Our bishop is writing a very important Pastoral Letter to all of us across the entire diocese. It is an official letter on how we are all to be engaged in evangelization and how we can evangelize. He is clear that evangelization is for everyone to do, not just priests and deacons. We will publish a summary of his letter in next week’s electronic newsletter and on our website.
What would happen if we were all evangelists? Think about it. Think of all the ways we can share Jesus with the people around us? Who can we invite to Church on Sunday? The opportunities are exciting if we simply find the courage to act. If we all invited one person this week, what a gift this would be for Jesus, wouldn’t you say? And what a gift to our faith community as well if we all just invited one person!
We can build up God’s family, his Church, but, sometimes, like the disciples in the gospel today, we build walls and gates, thinking small. When we think small, we become provincial and start thinking the Church belongs to us. There are us inside the Church and those outside the Church. Jesus never made those distinctions. This life of ours is an extraordinary gift, full of possibilities. But it’s more than just a dress rehearsal. It’s our one-time path to eternity. So give it your full attention. Think big. And love big, and invite. The Holy Spirit will be with you at every step of the way.
Jesus wants everyone to experience the love and mercy of his Father! He knows his mission and wants everyone to join in that mission.
So come to Mass, and bring a friend. We’re all on the same team and there is room for everyone.