The Word Among Us

November 2023 Issue

Already and Not Yet

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Already and Not Yet: Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When it comes to faith in Jesus, we live in an unusual in-between of the “already” and the “not yet.” Many of God’s promises have already been fulfilled in a very real sense, but we do not yet experience their fulfillment completely. As St. Paul wrote, “We see indistinctly, as in a mirror” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Or as St. John put it, “We are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

I think that we are pretty good at understanding the “not yet” part. The kingdom of God is not yet fully victorious in a world marked by war, division, and suffering. We are not yet as holy as the Lord desires. We don’t yet experience complete unity, love, and forgiveness in our families. I know I am not yet where God wants me to be!

What Is Yours Now. That’s the “not yet” part. But we need to believe just as strongly in the “already” part! The Scriptures are full of promises that have already been fulfilled. We have already died and risen with Christ in Baptism (Romans 6:1-6). The Holy Spirit already dwells in us (1 Corinthians 3:16). We can already “conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). As the Catechism proclaims, we “already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ” (1003, emphasis added).

It doesn’t stop there. The Catechism goes on: “The Father has already . . . ‘made us sit with him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus.’” In faith, you and I have even ascended with Christ to the right hand of God the Father! And now, “nourished with his body in the Eucharist, we already belong to the Body of Christ” (1003).

This month, we will look at three of these “already” promises. First, we will reflect on the truth that God has “raised us up with [Christ], and seated us with him in the heavens” (Ephesians 2:6). This can seem nearly impossible when our lives feel so firmly planted in this world, but this is what God’s word tells us! Then we will consider what it means that we are “citizens” of heaven, with all of the rights belonging to members of God’s kingdom (2:19). And lastly, we will ponder the truth that at every Mass—and in every prayer time—we have access to the throne of God, where we can worship alongside “countless angels” (Hebrews 12:22).

Already. That’s how God sees things, even when you feel weak. You already have a special place in heaven as a child of God. You are already precious to the Lord—right now!

Our lives are so abundantly blessed. I can’t imagine what they will be like when the “not yet” comes to pass, and we finally see Jesus face-to-face!

Jeff Smith
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