2nd Sunday OT
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
If you feel that things are tumbling out of control, that things are spinning apart faster than they used to; that what was true yesterday is now false; what was good and beautiful last week is now ugly and evil; that nothing we say or do seems to stop the wrecking of this roller-coaster we call daily life. . .welcome to the club. For the older folks like me, we've been watching this flaming circus for some time now. The younger folks have never known anything but the gleeful destruction of truth, goodness, and beauty by our Cultural Betters. We can blame the Sexual Revolution of the 60's; the horrors of the WW's and Vietnam; we can blame Obama and/or Trump, the Marxists and/or the Nationalists; why not blame “climate change” or social media and the internet, or blame those dodgy NFL refs? Doesn't matter who we blame. What matters – the only thing that matters – is what we, the followers of Christ, do while the wheels fly off this merry-go-round. Paul reminds the church in Corinth and the church in NOLA that we have been sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy. That's what we do: be holy. And we do that by knowing Christ.
We need to make an important distinction here. There's knowing about Christ and there's knowing Christ. We all know lots of stuff about Christ. Historical facts. Mary, his mother. Joseph, his father. Born in Bethlehem. Crucified at 33yo by Pontius Pilate. We know facts. BUT do we know him? Do you know him? This question tends to make Catholics a little uncomfortable b/c it sounds Protestant – all that “having a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior” stuff. But our Protestant brothers and sisters don't enjoy a monopoly on having a person-to-person relationship with Christ. Where they tend to describe that relationship in purely emotional terms, we tend to talk in terms of sacrament, of liturgy. What can possibly be more person, more person-to-person than taking into your own body the body and blood of Christ? What can more personal, more person-to-person than meeting Christ in the confessional and having your sins absolved? But even these sacramental meetings with the Lord can become routine, stale, and haphazard over time, leaving you and me with what seems like a merely ritualistic relationship with the One who saves us. We need to come to know Christ so that our meetings with him always lead to our growth in holiness.
I said earlier that our job as followers of Christ during this tumultuous time is to be holy. Being holy includes being morally good but it's not limited to moral goodness. Scripturally, holiness entails “set apartness;” to be readily distinguishable from the world in word and deed; to be identifiable as belonging to Christ and not to the world. Think of this way: if one of those reality TV shows followed you around 24/7 for a week, would the footage reveal you to be a follower of Christ? Could an audience point out those times that you revealed Christ to others? Those times that you defied the world and choose Christ? Those times that you visibly loved, forgave, showed mercy, healed, and stood up for truth? OR would the footage reveal just another middle-class American doing nothing more than what all the other middle-class Americans do day-in and day-out? I described our world as a burning circus and a teetering merry-go-round. Our job isn't to fix the world. Or to put out the fire. We couldn't if we wanted to. Our job is to be holy, to be set aside for the preaching and the teaching of the Good News. To offer to those who are exhausted by sin and death the freely given mercy of God. We are the anchors, the strong points, the life-preservers for anyone who's dizzy enough to want to jump off the carousel.
Now, you might be thinking: “Father, I'm not stable enough in my own faith to be offering help to anyone else!” Maybe not. But have you considered the possibility that your faith would be strengthen by offering to help someone in trouble? If you wait until your faith is good enough to be of help, you'll be standing in front of Father in heaven. Your imperfect faith can add to the imperfect faith of another and create a faithful bond that strengthens you both. How do you come to know Christ? You find him in others. Each one of us imperfectly participates in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, but we all participate in slightly different ways. Those billions of differences snap together like jigsaw pieces and create a more perfect Christ here on earth. But you and I must be willing to find one another in Christ and be the anchor for others. Holiness is contagious. Like fire, it spreads and consumes. It burns away falsehood and reveals the raw truth underneath. The Lord promises us, “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” It's time for you to become that light.