Fr. Tom McKenna, CM offers these thoughts on Jesus as the “AS IF” person.
Although it could sound a bit irreverent and even unbelieving when you first hear it, there’s a real truth in the description certain writers have given Jesus – the “as if” person.
That is to say, Jesus lived/s “as if” His Father’s Kingdom were real; i.e., as if the world Jesus portrays (in places like the Our Father and the Beatitudes) is the real world – and, the world of conventional society was not.
So, the world of predilection for the poor, of taking care of the needy neighbor, of fairness and justice, of honesty and transparency, of compassion, love of neighbor and even enemy — is the way things really are.
And Jesus lives that out – he takes it as a given that the world of His Father’s Kingdom is how things really are.
Of course, there’s a clash between visions of the world – and Jesus dies, upholding the Dream of His Dear Father for the world of the Kingdom.
But he lived, banking on the truth of this new world, “as if” it were the truth of things. You might say, Jesus “Bears Witness” to the reality of his Father’s Kingdom.
I pick up that phrase from the Acts today. “In doing certain things, the disciples bore witness to the reality of the Resurrection.” That is, in particular in this scene, in “sharing their possessions”, they were testifying to the New World, i.e., sharing one’s goods is one of the behaviors of this new world of the Lord’s Risen Life. In providing for the needy among them, they were acting out their conviction that this is the way the world now is – a community of one mind and heart where inequalities are to be lowered, especially with regard to the have-nots.
Bearing witness to the power of the Resurrection meant they were acting in the present “as if” the promised Reign of God were already here, as if it was now the new basis on which the world was operating.
And while, as we’ll see in the chapters ahead, there were many fallings-off of this conviction (people starting to cheat, take advantage of others, setting up privileged places at the Eucharistic banquet), nonetheless there were also many continuing examples of those who continued to live “as if.” As if God’s world was the real world, at the end of the day; as if the Resurrected Life were the bottom line truth of things, “how it is.”
And don’t we see these kinds of witnesses being given all through the history of Christianity? In the selflessness of so many people in taking care of others; in the willingness to let go of tight hold on possessions; in the concern that the vulnerable be taken care of.
Isn’t that the instinct behind the renunciations involved in what we have come to know as the Evangelical Councils?
I’ll let go of the control of my possessions because I believe there’s another order of things at work – where amassing goods isn’t what’s most important.
I’ll forgo having that special connection to that one person in my life; I’ll forgo having that family – because I have this conviction that while this is wonderful, there’s more going on than this, that there’s more life coursing through this world than is apparent and more fruitfulness to come – and I can depend on that.
I’ll forgo having that total control over my days and decisions because there’s something more I want to give myself to, something else going on that goes wider than the sum total of plans I can make.
Isn’t that how Louise and Vincent came at their world – seeing the preciousness and value of Jesus’ least of the brothers and sisters?
The Point: I’m living “as if” the Kingdom of God is real, more real than the wisdom of conventionality. I’m trying to do what these first disciples did: by my actions and attitudes, I bear witness to the reality of Jesus Risen Life.
In living out all the countercultural Kingdom attitudes and behaviors, I’m, along with these disciples, “testifying to the power of the Resurrection.”