Immersed in Christ: March 27, 2020
Friday, Week Four of Lent
The Responsorial (Psalm 34) tells us that, contrary to appearances, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”
Wisdom 2: 1-22 lists six reasons— as common today as then — why some nonbelievers find those who are authentically religious “obnoxious.”
Believers “reproach” others for going against God’s law. We do. We can’t judge others’ consciences, but when something is wrong we should say so.
Believers “profess to have knowledge of God.” Of course. Religion is empty without it. But this is not pride; the knowledge is a gift, not an accomplishment.
Believers are “different.” The attack here is not consistent with logic. In a religious culture the nonbelievers would be different — and fight for the right to be.
Believers “hold aloof from [cultural] paths as from things impure.” The question is, “Are they?” Unbelievers “hold aloof” from religious services. So?
Believers “call blest the destiny of the just.” Yes. And since they aren’t always “blest” by this world’s standards, this calls into question the core values that unbelievers live for. Someone is a fool.
Believers “boast that God is their Father.” Yes, but it is a gift offered to everyone, not a boast. And its first effect is humility: “O Lord, I am not worthy.”
The unbelievers’ biggest mistake is to assume God will protect the just from being delivered over to their enemies. Jesus’ crucifixion settled that question. But this only makes sense if there is “a recompense of holiness” after death. The bottom line (omitted in the reading) is: “For God created human beings to be immortal; he made them as an image of his own nature.” Our stand on that rules our answer to everything else. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”
An advantage to reading Scripture is that it raises all sorts of questions that are tossed about but not really confronted elsewhere. It helps to confront them, getting help from the word of God.
John 7: 1-30: When Jesus calls people to confront the question of his origins — “So you know me...?” — all he explains is, “I was sent.” We can like or dislike, understand or misunderstand all sorts of things Jesus teaches. But the only important question is whether God speaks in him. If he does, belief is settled. All that remains is to try to understand, and ask how to put it into practice. That is the work of disciples.
In a theology exam, the first question asked about every Church doctrine and practice is, “Where does it come from?” Scripture? A Church council? The personal viewpoint of a pope, bishop or scholar? The common consensus of the faithful? Or just unexamined conventional hearsay? To give a doctrine more authority than it has is just as bad as giving it less.
In today’s educated Church, every believer is challenged to ask those questions. If we don’t, we will become a community of blind led by the blind.
Initiative: Be a responsible believer. Know the origin of what you believe and do.