THE SERVANT GENERAL
OUR THEME FOR 2013
September 29, 2012
Today’s gospel: John 1:47-51
Our theme for 2013 is “Faith Works Wonders!” In
our theme verse, Jesus says, “whoever believes in me
will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than
these” (Jn 14:12). In today’s gospel, Jesus says,
“Do you believe ....? You will see greater things than
this.” (Jn 1:50).
believe is to do greater works. To believe is to see greater
things. Faith works wonders!
Jesus tells Nathaniel, “I saw you under the fig tree.”
(Jn 1:48b). The fig tree is a symbol of messianic peace. “Every
men shall sit under his own vine or under his own fig tree,
undisturbed” (Mi 4:4a). What kind of peace is it? Is
it just the absence of war? No, it is the very peace of God,
where nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks” (Mi 4:3b). Not
only will there be no more weapons of destruction, but the
materials and money and technology that went into these weapons
will be used for good, such as agricultural productivity.
And not only will there be no more physical weapons, but the
very hearts of peoples will be changed such that they will
look to harmony and peaceful co-existence, as “one nation
shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they
train for war again.” (Mi 4:3c).
such messianic peace would already be such a great thing.
But Jesus tells Nathaniel that if he believed, he will see
greater things. Then Jesus tells him, “you will see
the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending
on the Son of Man.” (Jn 1:51). Jesus alludes here to
Jacob’s ladder. Jacob “had a dream: a stairway
rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens;
and God’s messengers were going up and down on it.”
then said to Jacob: “I, the Lord, am the God of your
forefather Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which
you are lying I will give to you and your descendants. These
shall be as plentiful as the dust of the earth, and through
them you shall spread out east and west, north and south.
In you and your descendants all the nations of the earth shall
find blessing. Know that I am with you; I will protect you
wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never
leave you until I have done what I promised you.” (Gen
re-named Jacob as Israel (Gen 35:10). Now Jesus says of Nathaniel,
“Here is a true Israelite.” (Jn 1:47a). Nathaniel,
as part of Israel, would benefit from God’s promises
to Jacob. And the promises were awesome--descendants as plentiful
as the dust of the earth, spreading out in all directions
in the world, becoming an instrument of blessing for all nations,
God’s presence among them, divine protection, journeying
together until the fulfillment of the promise.
we Christians are the new Israel and are inheritors of God’s
promises. “And if you belong to Christ, then you are
Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.”
(Gal 3:29). Jesus himself reiterates God’s promises
Divine presence (Gen 28:15a): “And behold, I am with
you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b).
protection (Gen 28:15b): In his final prayer before his
arrest, Jesus said, “When I was with them I protected
them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them,
and none of them was lost” (Jn 17:12a).
together (Gen 28:15c): The writer of the letter to the Hebrews
reminds us that God has said: “I will never forsake
you or abandon you.” (Heb 13:5b).
We are now embarking on the New Evangelization. If we simply
BE.LI.EV.E, we will see greater things and do greater works.
First we affirm who Jesus is. “Rabbi, you are the Son
of God; you are the King of Israel.” (Jn 1:49). Jesus
is God. Jesus is Savior and Lord. Jesus is eternal King over
us all, the new Israel.
we do the work Jesus has commissioned all Christians to do,
that is to evangelize, to proclaim the good news of salvation
in him to the whole world. As we do this work and face obstacles,
oppression, persecution, suffering and pain, we cling to the
reality that Jesus is with us to the end of the age, that
he protects us, that he will never forsake nor abandon us.
We do God’s work, and God wills that His instruments
will succeed. We just need to be single-hearted and single-minded.
Like the true Israelite Nathaniel, there must be “no
duplicity in (us).” (Jn 1:47b).
we affirm that faith works wonders, that we can become agents
of messianic peace, and that in the end we ourselves will
ascend the stairway to heaven to be with the Son of Man.
BE.LI.EV.E, for greater things are yet to come.