Personal and Spiritual Maturity: “Living the Truth in Love, We Should Grow in Every Way into Him Who is the Head”

A Letter from Saint Paul to the Ephesians, 4:13-18

Until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants, tossed by waves and swept along by every wind of teaching arising from human trickery, from their cunning in the interests of deceitful scheming.

Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head,

Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body’s growth and builds itself up in love.

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What does a “fully mature human being” look like?

What does it mean to be a good person?

How are we different from the animal world or plant life?

One of our gifts as a human being is the skill to think, to reflect, to wonder, to grow in awareness of how all and everyone are connected to each other…

One of our gifts is to integrate all the components of our life together, the earthly, the inspirational, the spiritual and the practical…

Another gift is to temper the animal, the sexual, the selfish, the fear, “the other” as an enemy…

Another is the gift to learn, to acquire a wholeness, to achieve a wholesomeness, harmony and sense of being at peace with all of life.

On the other hand, there is a deep kind of human personal selfishness that is alive and well and reveals itself in all kinds of criminal thinking and actions.  There are many people who have no regard for God, no respect for others, who work the world and human resources to make life work for themselves alone.  They do not blink at selfish cruelty and have no regrets in hurting anyone.

From our earliest years as children, we have been taught to be like Jesus, who was more than a wonder worker, a healer, a teacher.  Of course, he is the Son of God whom today’s scriptures present as a “good shepherd.”

When we were small, we soaked up our Catholic faith like spiritual sponges, but as we grow up and become overcome by “smartness,” by activity, and work, and by material goals, we can let our personal relationships with God become thin and tenuous, letting political platforms and ideas without any reality drive our personal lives and goals.

We do not want to corrupt the Gospel, much less forget them lest we fall back into a darkness that dehumanizes.

In this Easter season, it is a good reality check to see what we have become or how far we walked away from Jesus the Good Shepherd.

By his Resurrection, Jesus has entered into a whole new relationship with us.

It is one thing for God to create us, take care of us, speak to us through the prophets and those who listen to God.  It is another thing for God to enter into our world of flesh and bones, to propose for us, or rather explain to us, the purpose of our lives.  Finally, it is a whole different experience and reality for God to infuse his divine, eternal energy into Jesus, and into us, who has invited us to live that same life, each day, now.

The Resurrection expresses the final evolution of our person and being whereby we become “The Complete Person,” as Jesus became the “complete person.”

In our second reading today, the author of the letter of Saint John expresses what God has done “that we may be called ‘the children of God.’”  Much more than an empty mystical phrase and poetic phrase at best, St. John tells us that we do not appreciate who we truly are, or appreciate our difference, through our words or actions.  What we are going “to be” has not yet been revealed.  Whatever infused Jesus at his moment of Resurrection is going to infuse us as well.  We can fully comprehend what being as fully mature as Jesus will be like.  That is God’s hope for us, but we keep tampering down such thoughts until we look so ordinary and as if Jesus never had an Easter.

Why are we Catholics?  Why do we follow Jesus?  In today’s gospel, Jesus says he “knows us and that He wants us to know him.”  Reverencing God through rituals may be satisfying for many people, but “knowing” God provides a clarity, a brightness, a confidence, a purpose and a peace.  That is what Jesus wants us to discover, to experience, to hold onto.

Jesus was undeterred by anyone who wanted to take him down.  He is determined for there “to be one flock, with one shepherd.”

There are billions of people today who have no interest in God, no interest to be in solidarity with all humanity, who are angry and fearful and self-centered.  “Our” shepherd can hold us, can talk to us, can protect us and keep us sane.

Jesus becomes our cornerstone upon which the rest of our lives and the strength of our house is built.

Jesus has a purpose, and in this Resurrection, shares his purpose with us: to be filled with God, and to share that energy, love, goodness and potential with each other.

You would think that God would [not] diminish Himself to come and to live with us.  You would think that God would lose something of who he was by wanting to live in us.  But it is exactly the opposite.  God opens us up to live more fully, more humanely, more gracefully, more purposefully.

Our lives should not be the same as they were.  What did Jesus say at the Last Supper: “I no longer call you servants.  Now, I call you friends.”  Jesus is not only leading us to a somewhere of eternal life, but more he is asking us to be the future by living the spirit of the future now.

God’s expectations for us have been so much greater than our expectations for ourselves.  Maybe this year, as we move to the future, there will be a change in us, an amazing spiritual maturity.

What is your plan?  Sit down, pray.  What can you begin to do?  Begin to seriously figure out your spiritual life plan?  Is it more than just doing the sacraments?  Or saying our prayers?

How do I get to be filled with the fullness of God?  What’s my plan to be what God wants me to be?

If we stop to reflect, pray and ask, God will begin to reveal some answers.

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