In this fallen world, we all face incredible suffering, sometimes what seems like unbearable, deeply unjust suffering. In these moments we must remain on the vine, take up our cross with Christ and let him strengthen us, or we will inevitably isolate, grow bitter, and eventually despair. We must remain in Christ if we want to weather the storm of this life- not only to weather it but to be joyful in the midst of it.
After 250 years of fighting relentlessly for the common good, for the idea that there is indeed goodness and truth, we have abandoned that struggle and chosen instead to just tolerate each other. Of fear of the tension that comes with diversity has crushed us, sent us into hiding. As a result, our faith is privatized, and we are afraid to bring it to bear in the world.
In this we can learn a lesson from our jr. high kids. It’s refreshing how willing young people are to offend someone with a blunt question. Now, is there often a lack of prudence, and even at times plainly inappropriate? Yes, but there is something raw and good there, we must risk offending people in the pursuit of the truth, and we also must be willing to be offended! Political correctness has robbed us of this courage.
Gregory the Great tells us, “The unbelief of Thomas was worth more to us than the faith of the others who believed.” If we make that great act of humility, humbling our sinful pride and coming before Christ, we find ourselves transformed in faith as Thomas was transformed, as all the saints were transformed. And it is then that we have the capacity and the courage to bestow God’s mercy upon others.
When St. Francis came before the Crucifix in the San Damiano Church, he asked three questions: Who are you, Lord? Who am I? And what would you have me do? With these three questions on our minds and hearts, I would like to dig into the scriptures from this Easter Sunday.
I realized the great leap of faith in the priesthood is this: When we are ordained, we are taken up into the priesthood of Jesus Christ, and along with that of course comes all the love of those who love Christ and the Church, yet what also must come is all the rejection of those who rejected Christ. All of us as Christians are called to take upon ourselves the Cross of rejection and scorn. Yet the priest is called into Christ’s victimhood in a particular way, in order that we may enter into solidarity with the poorest and most rejected in this world.
It is easy to pass over Jesus entrance into Jerusalem without looking into the detail and complexity of what is happening. If we do this, we miss the great magnitude of the event. Jesus fulfills a handful of prophecies in this single act, let's take a look!
The “You do you” life will never satisfy. As we move ever closer to Easter, to that great feast in which we proclaim boldly that Christ is risen, we look deep into ourselves and ask- am I living as if God is dead? Or can I truly say he is risen and lives in my heart- am I his servant, ready to follow his will.
Our God is mysterious. He acts in ways that we often cannot grasp, and we see his plan as those looking through a mirror dimly. Yet we know all the same that he is never unreasonable. His plan never requires an act of blind faith. The scholastics always spoke of fides quarens intellectum, faith seeking understanding! We will never grasp God completely, but we continue to seek, to learn, to know our heavenly father.
Ash Wednesday sits just three days away- we need to examine ourselves. We see continually in the scriptures that physical healing is always secondary for Jesus. What is most important is our spiritual healing. So, we ask ourselves: What are my addictions? What are my sins? Where do I need the Lord most?
This lent, let your penance be specific to that place you struggle most- if you are prideful, assign yourself menial, humiliating tasks. If you struggle eating too much, fast. If you are addicted to the tv or social media, put the tv in the storage room or switch to a dumb phone for lent.
This is not the health and wealth gospel, Jesus will not take away all our suffering and give us great riches if we turn our lives over to him. But he will give us joy in the midst of our suffering and thus make us holy witnesses to a world full of meaningless suffering.