Slow … but sure

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Building the kingdom of God

There is a story that, after working in the same place for a long time, two construction workers were approached by their supervisor who asked them how they felt about their job. The first bitterly pointed out that the work was hard and tedious, but that he needed the job to support his family so he put up with it day after day. The second responded that he felt happy and privileged to be part of a great project.

Great works cannot be done in a hurry. The Great Wall of China, the Egyptian pyramids, St. Peter’s Basilica, Notre Dame de Paris and so many other majestic works required the work of several generations, and their original authors did not have the privilege of seeing them completed.

Twenty centuries have passed since Jesus began building his kingdom and sending his disciples to the ends of the earth, and even now the work is not completed. As the architect, Jesus took care that his construction would have a solid foundation, capable of withstanding the test of time in all its circumstances, and left most of the design to the interpretation of those who would continue his work.

Jesus placed immoveable foundations of fraternity, truth, liberty, dignity, joy and peace, and he died fully trusting that we, his disciples, had learned to build like him and that we were desirous of conserving and, if necessary, perfecting his masterwork.

There is a popular saying that “the disciple is never better than the master,” although I am sure that Jesus and any other master would feel happy if an apprentice of theirs, based on what he or she had learned, had the confidence to perfect the work.

We, the disciples of Jesus, have certainly been slow to learn and perhaps even slower to build, but the Master continues to trust that his teaching will ultimately result in a majestic work that will endure throughout the centuries.

Millions of men and women through the centuries have contributed the skills and abilities of their souls, minds and bodies to the construction of the kingdom Jesus left to us as a legacy. Over the original foundation we have built missions, schools, hospitals and churches adorned with all types of lovely decorations that beautify the world everywhere, but without a doubt we still have much to learn, correct and perfect.

The foundations of peace, joy, fraternity and liberty that Jesus established cannot sustain violence, division, falsehood, fear or bitterness. Although slowly and with many corrections, we, the apprentices of Jesus, will continue to complete the architecture of the kingdom until there is no trace of war, oppression, deceit or division in the design.

There is still much to build, but we work joyfully and with pride, knowing that we are privileged to be part of this great project. We build with the certainty that his teachings are full of that lasting wisdom that makes real in our world the eternal wisdom of God himself, the Great Architect of everything and everyone.

Let us each build the part of the kingdom that has been entrusted to us: like citizens who create laws that defend and safeguard the dignity of each human being in need of housing, clothing, sustenance, family and love; like Christians and disciples of Jesus who show with their lives the joy of forgiving and being forgiven, the freedom of sharing, the strength of brotherhood, the freedom of purity, the greatness of tenderness and the firmness of truth.

Let us build with the confidence and certainty that those who have preceded us will continue illuminating our minds and hearts in order to strengthen, enlarge and beautify the construction of the Kingdom of God in this world where every human being has a place.

Mary knew how to discover and enjoy the privilege of being part of this great project. Let us follow her example by joyfully building our part.

Jesus, the architect who hired and trained us, pays all with equal joy as they see his masterpiece closer to completion each day.

To work! What a great privilege!

Read the Spanish version of this column.

Northwest Catholic - March 2017

Bishop Eusebio Elizondo

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.

Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.