There is a legend which recounts the return of Jesus to glory after his time on earth. He bore the marks of his cruel cross and shameful death. The angel Gabriel approached him and asked, “Master, do they know all about how you loved them and what you did for them?”
“No,” replied Jesus, “not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.”
Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have you done to let everyone know about your love for them?”
Jesus said, “I’ve asked Peter, James, John, Mary, Martha and a few others to tell people about me. Those who are told will tell others, and my story will be spread throughout the earth. Ultimately, all humankind will know about my love.”
Gabriel frowned and looked rather skeptical. He well knew what poor stuff humans were made of. He said, “But what if Peter denies you again? What if they all run away again in the face of opposition? What if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What if way down in the twenty-first century people just don’t tell others about you? Do you have another plan?”
Jesus answered, “No. I’m counting on them.”
It is centuries later and God still has no other plan.
In our gospel, Jesus describes for us an intimate and inexplicable relationship which calls us to be in communion with one another. As members of a community, we are called to attend to those beyond ourselves. We are called to be the face of Christ for each other.