30 May 2008

What's wrong with us!

Most Sacred Heart: Isa 49.13-15; Eph 3.8-12; Matt 11.25-30
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St Albert the Great Priory

St. Paul was a Dominican. You don’t believe me? Listen again to his letter to the Ephesians: “To me…this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ…so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church to principalities and authorities in the heavens.” Paul, the Dominican, is graced to preach Christ, the one who uniquely and finally reveals to us the Triune God, so that all of heaven and earth might come to know the wisdoms of our God “who created all things.” If there is a mission statement that we as preachers might swear to, a letterhead statement of purpose and will that we as preachers might memorize and recite, this is it! We preach Christ so that every creature might come to know the wisdom of God! It is perfectly reasonable to ask why such a thing—preaching Christ—might be something men and women of the 21st century would find necessary to do. We have therapists, philosophers, critics, scientists, academics, theologians, advice columnists, TV psychologists, radio personalities, actors, policy wonks, presidential candidates, mamas and sisters, brothers and first cousins, wikiepedia, Google, libraries, billboards, bumper stickers, facebook, workshop facilitators, professors, wingnuts on the street, protestors, activists, lobbyists, blogsites, tee-shirts, benefactors, billionaires, musicians, astrologers, soap opera stars, CNN, FoxNews, the Drudge Report, Znet, and every tongue capable of speech offering us wisdom, knowledge, information, and counsel. And yet, we insist on being preachers of Christ in the 21st century. What’s wrong with us?

Are we simply arrogant? Perhaps we are just too thick to read the signs of the times and in our gross stupidity too stubborn to submit to being possessed by the zeitgeist. Perhaps we are just too proud to allow the spirit of this age a place of honor in our hearts, a respected position in our minds. Why would it ever occur to us—the preachers that we are—that this age would need men and women ready, willing, and able to preach Christ so that the wisdoms of God might be known? Though the hearts and minds of this age would never confess their deeply rooted sense of abandonment, we hear daily, hourly Isaiah’s lament: “We have been forsaken, we have been forgotten!” With Isaiah we must say—without shame, guile, hesitation, or humor: No! No, we have not been forsaken. No, we have not been forgotten.

Is this age burdened by confusion, anxiety, isolation? Yes. Is this age weighed down by fruitless labor, reckless disobedience? Yes. Is this age careening toward self-destruction and chaos? Yes, but perhaps no more than any other. And so what if it is? With the armies of well-trained professionals and dedicated ministers of care, why should preachers of Christ be bothered? It is true that we share a bench on this sinking Boat. It is true that we live and breath next to those who despair even as they furiously row toward a safe shore. It is true that we must love…yes, even those who punch holes in the Boat and then cry for rescue. Why not then surrender them to the consequences of their reckless behavior and ours?

Because we are Dominicans—men and women graced to preach Christ so that the wisdoms of God might be known! Jesus proclaims, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.” And Jesus—in his death and resurrection—has handed all these things over to his Church. It is our responsibility (though not ours exclusively!) to preach and teach what Christ himself preached and taught; namely, “No one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him;” therefore, no one comes to the Father except through the Son by the workings of the Holy Spirit.

This age has not been forsaken. Or forgotten. However, this age is inexplicably prone to forsake and forget Christ’s own mission statement: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Dominicans—preachers of Christ for the salvation of the world—must stand up against the willful ease with which our age forsakes and forgets its Creator. How? Paul the Dominican is clear: “…we have boldness of speech and confidence of access [to God’s wisdom] through faith in [Christ].” And. . .Christ alone!

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