What’s Our Plan?
“God has given the plan to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship.” Ephesians 1: 9-10
Over the weekend I had the opportunity to watch bits and pieces of the Masters golf tournament. Before the final round, I listened to several of the players who were in contention lay out their plan for how they would approach the day with its intense pressure and try to win the tournament. Likewise, once the tournament ended, it was interesting to hear the players reflect on the day and the plan’s success or failure.
We take it for granted, but most of life revolves around some sort of a plan. A plan is a concrete path toward achieving a vision and a goal. Most of us have some sort of small plan for each of our days: what we hope to accomplish, where we might eat lunch, intentions about whom we plan to contact, etc. Plans are about meaning and hope. As such, our most important plans relate to faith and religion—they involve God and his plan.
One of the benefits to belonging to the Church is that our lives take on a new meaning because we are no longer merely on our own. There is a seductive attractiveness to believing one can be the architect of one’s own life. Perhaps it is the residue of childishness and the “no one can tell me what to do” attitude that resides in most of us. But, deep down, most people long to find deeper meaning beyond themselves, and to know that God has a plan.
As we begin this Easter Season, the Scripture readings for the Liturgy show us the outlines and basis for the plan God has established and is bringing to completion. It centers on Jesus Christ, who has already accomplished the most important part of the plan: to take on our adversary and the chaos, suffering and death that are the fruit of sin. He is victorious and now he is at work consolidating his victory. If this were a baseball game, we would be in the final innings. Not extra innings, because Christ has the victory in hand; but the final innings.
Saint Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Ephesians: “God has given the plan to be carried out in the fullness of time: namely, to bring all things in the heavens and on earth into one under Christ’s headship” (Eph 1: 9-10). The phrase “fullness of time” is an interesting one that is used several times in the Bible. In a sense, one could interpret it to mean, “at the time God has chosen in his plan” or “in God’s time.”
There are benefits and challenges to this. The benefits are knowing that there is a plan, and because we now belong to God through baptism and communion with him in the Church, we figure into his plan. We each have an important part to play if we open ourselves up to God and make ourselves generously available to him. Mary is our model in this regard. The fruit of knowing the plan is unfolding in the fullness of time, and that we are included, is peace and hope.
The challenge is that it can be difficult to see the plan because of the chaos sometimes present in our own lives and in the world at large. Reading the Acts of the Apostles helps our perspective. The earliest years of the Church were by no means smooth sailing. Even with the memory of the risen Lord and the reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost fresh in their minds and hearts, the early Christians faced many hardships, disappointments, and persecutions. On the surface, it sometimes appeared that their efforts were failures. But, this too was all a part of the plan.
May these days be filled with peace and consolation for each of us. Let us realize that we are not alone, and that we belong now to God and his plan. Let us see that even our sufferings and the chaos we sometimes face are not without a meaning or a purpose, but rather a moment in the fullness of time that presses on toward the completing of God’s plan to bring all things into one under Christ’s headship.
+ Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.
Catholic Key, April 13, 2018 issue
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Bishop Johnston’s April Prayer Intention
Please join me in prayer this April for all victims of human trafficking.