Immersed in Christ: March 16, 2020
Monday, Week Three of Lent
The Responsorial (Psalms 42 and 43) is: “My soul is thirsting for the living God. When shall I see him face to face?”
In 2 Kings 5:1-15 the mistake Naaman made was that he had some prior expectations about how a “prophet” would act. When Elisha did not “come out, invoke the Lord and move his hand over the spot” where his leprosy was, he lost whatever faith he had in his ability to help him. He wouldn’t even follow the simple direction, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan.”
Fortunately, he let his servants talk sense to him. “If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? So what do you lose?” Naaman did what he was told, and was cured. But we don’t and aren’t.
On the Ninth Sunday of the Year (March 6 above) you read:
Being a disciple means doing something; down-to-earth and daily, like putting a Bible on the pillow where we will have to pick it up at least once a day, and beginning to actually read it.
Did you do that? The same suggestion was made last year, for this same day: To be a disciple, begin small:
Get a copy of the Bible, a cheap one you are not afraid to write in and underline. Don’t put it on a table. Put it on your pillow.... And tell God you will read one line every night before you go to bed.
If you didn’t do that (and assuming you are not reading the Bible every day already), was your reason the same as Naaman’s? No “signs and wonders” accompanied the suggestion? It didn’t sound exotic or “mystical” enough to promise any significant effect on your life? So you treated it as unimportant?
What might you have gained if you had done it? So why not do it now?
People make this same mistake all the time. They even made it with Jesus! In Luke 4: 24-30 the people he grew up with wouldn’t believe this “hometown boy” could be the Messiah. He wasn’t “different” enough — at least, not in the way they expected him to be.
Have we made our churches places people are too much “at home” in? Should we make them less ”user friendly”? More intimidating? Forbid laity to enter the sanctuary? Require fasting, even from water, for several hours before Communion? Insist people dress up for Mass? Put everything into a special language nobody understands? Make children afraid to open their mouths in church?
It might “work.” But would it be Christian? Jesus could have acted so divine no one would believe he was human. Instead, he acted so human they found it hard to believe he was divine.
Maybe the answer is to stop depending on appearances and learn to see with the eyes of faith. Let faith tell us what we see instead of letting what we see determine what we believe. Isn’t that the core experience of Eucharist?
“My soul is thirsting for the living God. When shall I see him face to face?” The answer is, “Whenever you accept to find him where he is.”
Initiative: Do something unimpressive. For starters, put the Bible on your pillow!