I am going to indulge in a bit of a rant today. The verses above are from today's reading. I would like to draw your attention to the end of the second verse - "who Paul claimed was alive". Clearly, claiming that Jesus is alive, today, now, is a necessary part of proclaiming the Gospel. Paul understood this; yet, I sometimes wonder if anybody has truly considered the reality that Jesus is alive. In particular, I am referring to the way I hear others talk about Jesus. I commonly hear people say things like, "Oh, well Jesus was a carpenter" or "Jesus said such-and-such". Lately, I have begun to inwardly groan every time I hear someone refer to what Jesus said or did in the past tense. Why, you may ask?
Simply because Jesus is alive!!! He is not dead. He is with us always. If I you were in a room full of people who always referred to you like you were not there how would you feel? Think about it. Let it set in! As Christians this single fact must permeate our thoughts, actions, and words. When we constantly refer to Jesus in the past tense we do him a disservice. The fact is that what he said and did he still says and does.
Consider this as food for thought. The words issued from His very human lips 2000 years ago have since disippated in the air; thus there is a proper sense in which we say, "Jesus said". However, the fact remains that He is GOD incarnate; therefore, all the words he spoke with his human lips and tongue those many years ago were spoken by Him in His divine nature as well. This means those words are spoken eternally. In eternity there is no time; thus, Jesus' words are always present, now. When I read the Bible I always try to keep this in mind. It creates a much more intense sense of urgency when I realize that what I am reading is being said right now, not just in the past.
Further, from a strictly evangelical point of view I think it is better to say, "Jesus says, 'blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God'" rather than, "Jesus said, 'Blessed are the poor, etc'". There are more than enough people in this world that act like Jesus is dead and has been for 2000 years. As Christians, we should make every effort to proclaim the incredible fact that he is very much alive and with us today, speaking to and teaching his people. So, the next time you are tempted to ask someone, "What did Jesus have to say about X?" ask "What does Jesus have to say about X?" instead. Try it, you won't be dissapointed. You might sound like a fool to others - but isn't that what it is all about?
Jesus Christ is alive; he is the center of history and the center of each and every person's existence. "The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised for the sake of all (cf. 2 Cor 5:15) can show man the way and strengthen him through the Spirit in order to be worthy of his destiny: nor is there any other name under heaven given among men by which they can be saved (cf. Acts 4:12). The Church likewise maintains that the key, the center and the purpose of the whole of man's history is to be found in its Lord and Master. She also maintains that beneath all that changes there is much that is unchanging, much that has its ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (cf. Heb 13:8)" (Vatican II, "Gaudium Et Spes", >10).
"Stir up that fire of faith. Christ is not a figure that has passed. He is not a memory that is lost in history. "He lives! '"Jesus Christus heri et hodie, ipse et in saecula"', says Saint Paul, - 'Jesus Christ is the same today as he was yesterday and as he will be for ever"' (St. J. Escriva, The Way, 584).