IN HIM ALL THINGS HOLD TOGETHER
“What in the world is going on with the world?! Things can’t get any crazier!” I’ve heard those words and SAID those words multiple times in the last couple of years. Diabolical disorder, anarchy, increasing violence, mass confusion, corruption, and an unbelievable absence of Truth bombard us daily.
Even so, our fallen world is not so different from the age Jesus walked in; a world that was very good in the beginning of time and slouched toward deceptive evil. In St. Paul’s beautiful letter to the Colossians he tells us that despite the sin of the world, Jesus who is “the image of the invisible God” is supreme. Paul says Jesus “has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col 1:13). All the verses in Chapter One of Colossians are captivating, but the one that holds my attention most is verse 17, where Paul writes: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
In him all things hold together. Therefore, without him, nothing holds together. Why is the world unwinding into chaos and wickedness? Because we have not remained IN Christ Jesus. So, how do we stay IN HIM? St. Paul uses the term “IN Christ” over 80 times in his letters. He urges us to remain close to Jesus in our thoughts, we live with him in our hearts, we abide, we obey, we surrender, we follow his will. We should be in Christ like a fish is in water. Like red is in a rose.
Jesus himself prayed that we would be connected to him in a profound way. As the Last Supper ended, Jesus prayed what is called the High Priestly Prayer. (Your homework for this week: read John 17 and the High Priestly Prayer!) Jesus prays this out loud before the disciples. It is the longest prayer recorded in the Gospels. There are three distinct parts: Jesus makes an offering of His self-sacrifice to God the Father that will Glorify the Father and the Son, he prays an intercessory prayer for the Apostles, and Jesus prays for all of us who will follow him in the future.
In this prayer, Jesus prays SEVEN TIMES that his disciples be one with him. “… they may be one like us… not one is lost… may they all be one … they also may be one in us… that they may be one … as we are one… With me in them and you in me, may they be so perfected in one that the world will recognize that it was you who sent me …”
What Jesus prays WILL happen eventually. He is the sovereign King and God of the universe! The same God who spoke time and space into being can surely unite his beloved people to Himself. But He waits for us to respond with our Free Will.
How do we remain IN him? How do we remain ONE? Scripture, prayer, service, love, mercy, fellowship, self-sacrifice… all those are essential. But there is one secret hiding in the halls of Catholicism that many of our Protestant brothers and sisters have overlooked. The beautiful gift Jesus has given us in the Eucharist; his very body, real and substantial. Jesus plainly says as part of the Bread of Life Discourse in John 6: “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him (verses 54-56).”
My brothers and sisters, we must abide in him. Remain in him. Teach the world to be in him. Then “in him all things will hold together.”