March 23, 2008
They did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. – John 20: 9
They believed before they understood. St. Augustine put it this way: “Credo ut intelligam.” I believe so that I might understand. We do not believe in the resurrection because we understand it; we must first believe if we are ever to have any hope of understanding it, & what we believe says a great deal about who we are.
There is a story in Buddhist literature about a man who came up to a monk & said, “When I look at you I see a pig!” Then the monk said, “And when I look at you I see the Buddha.” The man said, “How is that?” The monk replied, “Well, what you see is what you are on the inside. If you see the Buddha, then you are the Buddha. If you see a pig ….” The Talmud tells us that “We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.” The spiritual life begins with knowing who you are.
Radio “shock jock” Howard Stern, on his program one day,
was discussing the Albanian refugee situation, which occurred during the war in Kosovo. Because of war & hate, these refugees had seen their homeland ravaged, their homes destroyed, their wives & daughters raped, members of their families tortured & killed; they had fled with only the clothes on their backs & now live in unsanitary camps, dying from hunger. What did Howard Stern have to say about these people?
He is quoted in a Wall Street Journal article on his show: “The Serbs were just having a good time … those Albanian women are hot … look at this influx of hot chicks ….” Stern’s take on the tragedy at Columbine High School in Colorado ? “Some of those girls fleeing the school were really good looking.” That is what Howard Stern sees because that is what he is. While others who have compassion see traumatized kids in need of tender healing, he sees pigs. Advertisers see kids as a commodity, a source of enormous profit. Day & night, there are negative messages all around us from people who want to tell us who they think we are.
The Howard Sterns of this world see us as objects; the advertisers preach as slick gospel which says their products give us our identity. Thanks to the resurrection, we do not have to buy into all this because we know better: we are children of a loving God, made holy by baptism & consecrated by the Holy Spirit. We are precious in God’s eyes & dare not treat each other like disposable tissues. When we see other people, what do we see?
Do we see a troublesome person who talks too much, a vagrant, an enemy, a diseased person who can no longer take care of themselves? Or do we see the risen Christ, sometimes in distressing disguise as Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it. What we see says a lot about us, & the difference depends upon whether or not the resurrection is real for us & not just something we pay lip service to. AMEN!