12 Apr 2016
We all know what it’s like to receive an invitation. Maybe it’s to a wedding, or a birthday party. Maybe it’s a casual invitation to go out to lunch, or something like that. Or maybe it’s an invitation to some event here in the parish. And with the invitation, we’re left with a choice: to go or not to go—there really isn’t an “in-between” option.
And the same goes with our Lord. He offers us an invitation when he says, “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” He’s inviting us to come to him and to believe in him. Even for us who’ve been coming to Church for years, the invitation is always there to know the Lord more deeply.
Of course, with that invitation to “come and believe,” we’re left with a choice: to go or not to go. Again, there really isn’t an “in-between” option. And this choice brings up all the big questions we carry through life: questions of trust, questions of faith, wondering where it’ll go if I accept the invitation.
Now, we hear the story of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen. We can see where his acceptance of Christ’s invitation took him . . . to the vision of heaven. Maybe you thought I’d say, “It led him to being stoned to death.” And that’s true, of course. But for him that was nothing compared to the glory of God that attracted and inspired him.
To answer Christ’s invitation is to say to him, “Jesus, I trust you. I trust you because I know you love me. And I trust that you want nothing but the best for me. Jesus, you are beautiful to me.” And every time we go to Jesus and believe in him, it’s like a sunny and fresh start to a new day. Just like with Saint Stephen, the clouds of life begin to scatter, and we start to see God’s goodness again.
But that doesn’t happen without a response to the Lord’s invitation. And we respond very simply. With all our heart—even more so than in words—we say, “Lord Jesus, I trust in you. Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit. Show me the Way, the Truth, and the Life you promise. Give me the Bread of Life always."
Jesus extends the invitation again today (and every day): “Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” And he leaves us to answer that invitation on our own.