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John Harding had it all; his credentials were impeccable. He had a wonderful family. His wife, Sally, was one of those people everyone enjoys meeting and instantly likes. His eight-year-old son, Rick, was a good student, enjoyed athletics, and obeyed his parents. John himself had moved up the corporate ladder. After graduating from Arizona State University, where he played baseball well enough to be offered a professional contract, he moved to California's "Silicon Valley" and signed on with one of the many software companies that operate in the region. Through his intelligence, diligence, and much hard work he rapidly moved into management, beginning at the bottom and moving up. Still in his thirties, national publications such as Forbes, U.S.A. Today, and The Wall Street Journal commented favorably on his managerial style. John Harding had the perfect resumé for life: academic achievement, awards, and many positions of importance.
It was at this time that John Harding met little Timmy Noble. Timmy, a member of the Angels, was eight years old and a tow-head just like his son Rick. Unlike his son, however, Timmy was not a good player; he did not have the gifts for baseball. He did not possess the keen eye to be a good hitter nor did he have the strong arm needed to be a good fielder. But Timmy Noble had some very important qualities nonetheless. He had courage and a big heart -- how can one measure such qualities? He had determination and, most especially, Timmy Noble had faith.
The Angels did well that year; in fact, they won the League championship. Timmy Noble was not one of the stars; he just was not gifted as a baseball player. But there was something wrong, something radically wrong. Timmy Noble was very sick. He never told anyone; he never complained. He came to every practice and played in each game, even though he had to ride his bike five miles each way to the field. When the season was over and it was revealed that Timmy Noble had terminal cancer, John Harding knew the reason that God had led him to manage the Angels. John had the perfect resumé for life; Timmy Noble had the perfect resumé for eternal life.1
We live in a world today which demands that we have a good resumé. We need to have all the qualifications that will allow us the greatest opportunity, for employment and the many other avenues in life. In today's reading we hear a portion of the first missionary discourse of the Book of Acts. We are told the essential facts of the teaching that Jesus is the Christ -- in other words we hear about Jesus' credentials, his resumé for life. In a short passage we are informed about Jesus' name, work, words, death, and resurrection; his life is described as one of signs, miracles, and wonders. We know from our reading of Scripture that this was true.
Jesus did many wonderful things that would look good on a resumé. He was a great teacher with an incredible ability to draw people to his "lectures." He was a miraculous healer which again attracted people from the whole region to his side. Yet, the greatest elements of his resumé might not be recognized as beneficial since they speak of his need for death and resurrection. Jesus' death, Luke tells us in this pericope, was integral to God's plan for human salvation. Seen in this light, Jesus' great sacrifice, which brought the possibility of eternal life to all people for all time, may have been the most valuable qualification he possessed and, therefore, the most important statement in his resumé. The Lord's resurrection also was central to God's plan. This event was predicted by David, Luke tells us, and formed the final chapter in a life totally lived for others. It was the closing element of his resumé which brought life to others.
The resumé which we write of our life, like that of John Harding, generally is fixed in the present in its description of everything that we can do. We spend a lot of time doing things that will make our resumé appear more attractive to others. In order to make ourselves physically more noticeable, we go to the gym, take laps around the track, and watch carefully what we eat. Educational credentials are critical to the resumé, and thus we obtain degrees by our attendance at the best schools. We realize that many times it is not what we know, but who we know, and thus we cultivate the "right" relationships which will one day pay off in our favor. Building a good resumé is important in our contemporary world; if we want to compete we must do our best to achieve the credentials that will be noticed by others.
Christians, however, must be building another resumé at the same time, one that has nothing to do with life today but everything to do with eternal life. Timmy Noble knew that his days were limited and he prepared himself and those around him for the eventuality that will come to all people. Yet, he was filled with hope, and thus lived his life to the fullest. His resumé would lead to death but eventually to resurrection. John Harding had all the credentials for life, but he needed to learn from his little player what was necessary to prepare more completely -- for life today and death tomorrow.
The Easter season which we celebrate is a period when we contemplate the Lord's resurrection and ask how this one event of history can aid and transform us today. Jesus lived his life fully each day; he did not allow opportunity to pass by unnoticed. Yet, in building his resumé through, as Luke says, signs, wonders, and miracles, he was constantly preparing himself for the two greatest elements of his life, his salvific death for us and his conquest of death through resurrection. In a similar manner, we must learn to develop a resumé for eternal life as we construct one for life today. What credentials do we have? Are our qualifications limited to those that show up on the work resumé, the ones that society deems as essential for its needs? Or, can we say that we have made progress in gathering those elements of our life which can accept death, with the constant and sure hope that resurrection will follow? Our preparation must be for life and death; both are necessary to be fully ready.
Let us as the Easter season progresses reflect upon how Jesus lived his life for others through the resumé which he constructed. It was filled with many things that would make people stop and stare, but its most profound aspects were those ways he prepared for a death that would bring life to others. Let us imitate Jesus and die to self while we prepare our resumé for eternal life.
1. Synopsis of Og Mandino, The Twelfth Angel (New York: Fawcett Crest, 1993).
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