Monday, February 21, 2011
Every coin, it seems, has two sides, one that is positive, and one that is negative. The more valuable the coin, the greater are its positive and negatives sides. Here was the transfigured Jesus in his risen glory on top of the mountain with his friends Peter, James and John along with Moses and Elijah. There was God’s voice, too, thundering from the cloud saying, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him. No retreat in the history of the world could ever match the heights of this peak moment. But down there at the bottom of the mountain was anger, argument, a boy possessed by the devil, a father’s weak faith and the disciples’ failure in trying to help the boy.
Flip the coin, where will lady luck land? Will she land us on the positive peak moment of grace, healing and peace? Will she land us in the depths of sin, doubt and despair? Either way, luck has nothing to do with it. Whatever the moment, Christ is there calling us to a deeper faith in the joys and delights life offers, and in the sorrows we must endure. Lady luck is nothing but a myth, a mirage of faulty logic. What is most important is prayer. The prayer of gratitude for all that is good in this life and the prayer for mercy, compassion and healing when we suffer. On top of the mountain, or in the depths of Hell, the love of Christ is always the same. It is the love that draws us in every moment of our lives to his heart that beats eternal salvation for all those whom he loves. Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.
Monday, February 7, 2011
The Church teaches that we are the new Jerusalem; a shiny city on a hill. We are God's chosen people. With this favored status we have the promise of salvation, if we are true to the Covenant. We are the holy ones, the saved, the redeemed, the ones who will see God face to face in the heavenly banquet.
"Through his cross and resurrection he freed us from sin and death and called us to the glory that has made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart." (Preface for Sundays in Ordinary Time 1)
Gennesaret, though, seems to be a more apt description of who we are as a Church today. Gennesaret was on the other side of the lake, near pagan territory. It was seen as the place where demon possession was an epidemic. It was unholy, wounded, filled with anguish and sorrow, it was a place where many sick people suffered in terrible pain. It was a place where the saved lived side by side with the damned. It was a place Jesus paid special attention to because they needed him to be present to them.
All he needed to do was pass by them, and if they just touched the tassle of his cloak as it whisked by them, they were healed. But the sick, the possessed, those who suffered in sorrow and pain needed one thing: the help of those who knew Jesus would cure them. They needed the community who believed in him to help them in their powerlessness to be in his presence. This, to me, is the better model and understanding of what the Church is supposed to be.
Rather than seeing ourselves as the saved, the ones who've made it and are, therefore, already graced and already in the golden city of Jerusalem, we should see ourselves as the ones who are to bring the suffering, the lost, the poor, and all the others we know of who are sick in Gennesaret to the one whose presence will bring them healing and peace. Are we willing to make such an invitation to those who need to touch him?
Friday, February 4, 2011
About 15 years ago a movie called Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day Story hit the theaters with a resounding thud of silence. It was a beautiful movie. It tells the story of Dorothy Day who grew up in a fairly affluent family, received a degree in journalism and had the promise of an elitist career. She got pregnant, and the father encouraged her to stop the pregnancy. When she did, he abandoned her. This moment was a life-changing event.
She met a French-Canadian philosopher, Peter Maurin, and was influenced to become a member of the Catholic Faith. Together they founded the Catholic Worker movement in the 1930’s. Their main task was to feed the hungry and homeless people living in the streets of New York City during the depression. At a time when she needed help the most, she asked for help wherever she could get it, and even the Church tried to silence her. She was relentless, and worked harder to care for the poorest of the poor.
She was accused of being a communist during the 1950’s. She was involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. She protested for peace during the Viet Nam Conflict. She was imprisoned for non-violent civil disobedience.
We go to Mass, we hear the Gospel proclaimed, we receive the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and all the graces that come with it. But if we are here because of what we are getting we are here for the wrong reason. If we are Catholic because we want to get into heaven, then our Catholic faith is, at best, being used minimally.
Our being nourished by the Eucharist does not just strengthen us for the journey to righteousness, holiness, Catholic piety and the hope of a heavenly reward. We are fed so that we can feed others. We are nourished so that we can have the strength to give testimony – to proclaim the gospel to world that is dying of starvation. When we are fed with the Body of Christ, we are given the nourishment we need to entertain angels.