Just how do we know what we know? The first reading today gives us a little lesson in the study of knowing, called epistemology. “No one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God.” That is to say, there are some things we have been given the smarts to figure out on our own. Much of our day to day life falls into this category. On the other hand, there are something things that are beyond our reason. With these things, we can only know what we know because God tells them to us. The depths and riches and mind of God are beyond what we can understand. But because of God’s love for us, God allows us to enter into a relationship with him.
It is no secret, especially to those who keep an eye open for studies on faith participation, that these days for the Christian faith present a challenge. It is simple. For more and more people, especially the young, Christian faith is simply not a factor in their lives.
Lord, you know we are suffering in many ways because of the afflictions caused by the COVID-19 virus. We pray today for all of those in the healing profession who are nurses. We thank God for giving to them a caring vocation. We thank you for calling them to imitate you in your care and compassion.
Fr. Kevin Stephens, OP calls our attention to the fear and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 as a reality which brings us to greater solidarity with the fear and anxiety of the past. He helps us to identify with the man who begs Jesus to heal his son, and to save his son from death. That man believed that Jesus could save his son, and Jesus rewarded his faith with the healing he asked for.
In the first book of Samuel, chapter eight, the people ask Samuel for a king. Forgetting that God is their king, or perhaps more accurately rejecting the kingship of God, the people want to be just like other nations. Notice this. The people want to be just like other nations. The idea is one that remains common today. Sometimes we too find ourselves wanting to fit in, to be just like everyone else. Whether it is because we find ourselves unwilling to fin God because we sin, or simply do not desire to think about God, we can still experience a tension between God’s way and ours. This weekend by celebrating Christ the King we see how they coincide and complement each other.
The first reading from this week comes from one of the books of the Maccabees. Just who were they? And how does the time they lived relate to the time of Jesus, and to our time today? This new podcast seeks to go behind the reading to give context to help us to understand better what we hear at Mass.
The time a couple of centuries before Jesus was an interesting one. There was a lot of political fighting, war, and religious fighting. It was a time when some sought to blend in, becoming like the culture around them. Others sought to defend their religious freedom. Still others sought to impose their ways of belief on others by killing them. It was a time that became perfect for the arrival of Jesus on the earth. Why? Because it became a time where the power of personal witness invited people to a more powerful relationship with God. Jesus did not force others to believe in him. It was the authentic witness of faith that inspired others to believe in him. This personal relationship of trust in God was one which led to total surrender, even at the cost of death. What is your witness? How do you help people to see in the way you live your life the invitation to believe in Jesus?
Sometimes we can draw conclusions about people based only upon external actions. And while part of this is normal, if we give it a little reflection, we often realize that making such a judgement on scant evidence means that we do not know much about a person. A focus on only the externals can cause us to miss the fundamental dignity of the internals. We know a person is more than what they do. In our lives of faith, we too must find ourselves concerned not only with what we do, but also with who we are. Our external actions must be motivated by the way we find ourselves driven by internal conversion.
He kept trying to see him. Even King Herod, who was not really a very good person, at least in the actions we see him commit, was quite intrigued by Jesus. He did not really know what to make of Jesus, but he was intrigued enough to try to see him. It is the same Herod who felt the attraction of the words of John the Baptist. At some point, Herod could have made a life-changing decision. He could have come to believe in Jesus by submitting to God. But kings do not always submit. We might say the Herod was intrigued by the idea of a relationship with God, but could not bring himself to have such a relationship. Do we do the same? Or do we seek in our own lives not only to be attracted to Jesus, but to follow him?
Mary the mother of Jesus is never identified by name in the gospel of John. And while today’s gospel comes from the gospel of Luke, the message remains: we give the Mother of God such reverence first and foremost because of her tremendous faith. She trusted God. She believed in God. There were days like today in the gospel where she might have wondered about whether or not she was on the right track. But in all of this, her faith, her example, her life, all these things were ordered to God in a way that helped her to understand and know what was most important. May it be the same for each one of us.