We Work: God Makes It Happen – Joe Frankenfield
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
“When are you going to stop taking your sister’s toys?” the frustrated mother asked her four year old son. Mistaking the angry statement for a question, the little boy, chin aquiver and eyes ever so pathetic replied, “When I grow up.”
There’s a strain in social thought that holds that humans, given enough time, will evolve our way out of violence and injustice naturally. This optimism waxes and wanes in the popular imagination. But, the thinking goes, our intelligence and simple self-interest will inevitably move us all towards cooperation for the common good.
Catholic thought, however, cautions against trusting a natural progression to universal peace. Jesus referred to humanity’s fulfillment as the Kingdom of God because it will be the world that God always intended but, more importantly, because God alone makes it possible.
Many of us who are comfortable with the idea of the Kingdom being God’s vision are much less at ease with the idea that only God can make that vision a reality. Such dependence upon God leaves us feeling a bit like children playing at life while God, the parent, tolerates the game until its time to put the toys away, put us to bed and straighten up the house. Such extended infancy seems irresponsible. But this misunderstands our theology.
Our tradition points to an all-consuming human need for security in the face of death’s inevitability. Unless this need is met, we face an insatiable drain on our energy that keeps us radically focused on ourselves. Jesus revealed that our Creator stands by us without question, however. Death isn’t the absolute demise that it seems. Faith in Jesus’ revelation liberates us from obsession with our own individual survival so that we can enter fully into the communal relationships of loving care that life both affords and demands.
God doesn’t do for us what we can do for ourselves. God opens the door of life’s promise by guaranteeing our existence but we must walk through it to build the world we desire.
Without God’s work the Kingdom cannot happen; without our work the Kingdom will not happen.