March 30, 2014
LENT IV (A)
Do you believe in the Son of Man? – John 9: 35
That very same question remains for us to answer here & now. Do we really believe in the Son of Man? Take a word, any common everyday word, like ‘magazine,’ & keep repeating it over & over again, faster & faster. After twenty or thirty times, the word loses its meaning. It will just be a sound, a blurry absurd noise, stripped of all meaning. In some sense, isn’t that what we do with even the greatest, most profound words we use in the practice of our faith? We repeat them over & over again, week after week & year after year, until they lose their genuine meaning. If we should repeat them now, would they express our deepest convictions, or are they words stripped of all meaning?
When we say the words of the Creed, are we merely acting out a role, or do we really believe them? If we truly love God, it will make a difference in the way we live. It will make a difference in the kind of people we are.
We cannot genuinely encounter God’s grace & still go about our business in the same self-centered, insensitive, dishonest, unloving way. Otherwise the religious experience itself is violated & contradicted. In other words, it is ‘phony.”
The faith-response to God is not a cheap, sentimental, superficial kind of response. It is something worked out in & through obedience. Many professed Christians want the rewards of religion without being willing to pay the cost. They want the cheap grace that is the deadly enemy of our faith. Obedience is the way to the wholeness of life that God is offering us. There is no other way.
We have been given the power to transform despair into hope, violence into peace; & when our encounter with God is honest & authentic, we will show it. We will demonstrate this God-given power in our everyday, ongoing living.
The greatest of all deaths, because it was the greatest of all lives, was the death of our Lord. This death never loses its compelling power for us as we follow Him on His journey to the Cross. He may have wavered in the Garden of Gethsemane, but when the choice had to be made, He made it clearly, & thus became the savior of all as WE walk inevitably toward death.
We come together today in Jesus’ name, fully aware of our mortality & our shortcomings. We have the privilege of standing together with Him in life, as we walk confidently toward death, because He leads us through death to new life. Death does not have the last word. The Lord of life has the last word.
An old poem goes like this:
Doubt sees the obstacles, Faith sees the way. Doubt sees the blackest night, Faith sees the day. Doubt dreads to take a step, Faith soars on high. Doubt questions, “Who believes?” Faith answers, “I.”
I once heard a high official in our Archdiocese remark, “We can’t operate on faith around here.” Now, I know what the person was trying to say, namely, “We must be realistic;” but a worse choice of words to say that could not have been made. Faith is the bottom line of all that we say or do. If not, we’re in the wrong line of work. AMEN!