To do greater things than Jesus?

by May Tam

In today's Gospel Reading, before His imminent departure from the world, Jesus comforts His disciples with the promise of a return at which He will gather them to Himself (rf Jn 14:1-4). Meanwhile, in between His absence and His return, Jesus mentions something that seems impossible to us. He says, “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these . . .” (Jn 14: 12). How can that be? We all know that Jesus healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf. He even raised the dead to life! How can we perform greater works than He? He says we can do greater works because when He goes to the Father, He will send us the Holy Spirit and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will then be able to do that. Is it true?

On earth, Jesus of Nazareth undoubtedly performed great works; but as a true man, His works were limited in Palestine at a specific time; however, the power of the Holy Spirit has no boundaries, it works in every time and in everywhere. Recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, after Jesus' departure from the earth, the Holy Spirit continues to work miracles through those who abide with Him. Many signs and wonders were done by the apostles both in and outside Jerusalem, personally and collectively, in the likeness of those done by Jesus (rf Acts 2:43, 5:12-16, 9:17-18; 33-42, 14:7-9; 19, 15:12, 16:16-18, 20:9-12, 28:3-8). Miraculous they were, but the Holy Spirit also works in ordinary ways through common people. Like Jesus who physically opened the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, the same Spirit can open the eyes, ears and minds of the spiritually blind and deaf through the examples of those who have faith in Him; who listen to His words and obey His commands; who persevere in good deeds and live a virtuous life.

True, Jesus can raise the dead to life, but only for a while; eventually they have to die. But through the Holy Spirit, in the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, those who are spiritually dead are revived and given new and eternal life. In like manner, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we, too, can raise the dead to life when we enrich the lives of other people by affirming their dignities and worth; when we reach out to those who are abandoned, down trodden and heart broken; when we enlighten the minds and soften the hearts of those who are enslaved in sins; when we bring hope when everything is in despair and when we bring love when love is absent.

Yes, Jesus did great things and the greatest thing that He did is not adding days to our life but adding life to our days. In the power of the Holy Spirit, we continue the works of Jesus. Jesus once made God visible in His time and space, what Jesus said will be true when we make God visible in ours.