May 27, 2018
Feast of the Holy Trinity
Lucy, my daughter loves her accessories! Lol, to get her out the door with only two purses, 5 dolls, a bucket, 1 hat, 2 pairs of sunglasses, and 5 kinds of snacks, is a 10 minute negotiation! At two years old, appropriately, she doesn’t yet know what she really needs and so she wants everything. What Lucy really loves is to go for walks, go to the park, and to go to St. Charles. Those are the things that make her really happy! but she misses out on so much of these experience because she spends too much time trying to gather and hold all of her babies, sunglasses, and purses in her arms, which turns into a hilarious, but never-ending, dilemma of dropping one while trying to pick up the last one she dropped.
At 2 this is a completely appropriate mentality and behavior. My hope is that as she grows older she will become better and better at discerning what it is she really needs in order to walk out the door, to go forth into the word as Jesus calls us all to do. To be led by the Spirit of God, is to let go of all those things that we thought we needed and to except that God’s love is enough. Our society and sadly even our Church more often than not encourage us to stay within this sort of childlike mentality and behavior. A mentality of fear (unknown future) , a mentality of scarcity (Both within ourselves and our bank account). We begin withholding, buying up everything under the sun, sacrificing our relationships and values so we can be “successful”, “secure”, “happy”, so we can be “OK”, what ever that means.
The truth is we don’t need anything at all except that, which we have had, since the moment of our conception, the Love of a God who dwells within us, and who call us all sons and daughters. Joint heirs of a God who offers themselves to us and always will. “I am with you always ”. That means even if we are screw ups, have doubts, are non-believers. In fact, from what I can tell from Scripture and my own experience, God moves through our failures and doubts much more than our successes and certainties.
There is a lot of people talking these days about why so many are leaving the church.
It’s a huge question that deserves a complex analysis. We need to be wary of any proposals that put forth a more successful image as the answer to the problem and here is why. I think part of the answer can be found in this; 6 days out of the week children are taught that they need to be better, they need to be successful, get better grades, get into a better college, good works are done only if they can be documented for the college resumes, follow all the rules, don’t make mistakes, and if you do cover it up as soon as possible. And Everything around them affirms these lessons. Then one day of the week (maybe if they aren’t too busy with games or homework), on Sunday, we ask them to listen to the Scriptures and look at the cross. Brothers and Sisters, people, especially young people, are simply refusing to act as if they don’t see the contradiction? So young people are leaving the church in droves. And who could blame them? Success is what we taught them to seek……
Jesus Christ was by all measures of his society and ours a complete and utter failure!
Look at this crucifix, what about it says perfection? What about it says success? Even happiness….
Today’s Gospel and the second reading together show us that it is only by going out, and teaching the commandments of love and the Sermon on the mount that any of us can come to understand who we truly are within the Divine relationship. And Paul tells us that it is going to mean suffering!
Just like Lucy trying to get out the door, eventually we have to let go of that which we think we need but only holds us back. And it is going to hurt when that happens. It is going to feel like failure. It is going to feel like chaos. It is going to feel like scary. It is going to feel like empty. In fact, it is most likely going to feel like we are dying. St. Francis called it the first death. Before we know who we really are, the death of our image, seems like death PERIOD.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls and dies, it remains only a grain of wheat”
Everything in our society, likely our family, our friends, perhaps even our own faith community will tell us to stop, to come back from the edge, that we are crazy (Mark 3:21), even that we are jeopardizing those we love.
The disciples went out despite their doubt, despite their known shortcomings, despite being on the losing side, and their testimony of defeat was that it liberated them from all fear, that it allowed them to recognize themselves as Daughters and Sons of God, to be able to truly recognize that THEY and the Spirit bear witness together, That THEY and Christ are joint heirs together. Heirs? Brothers and Sisters, the God of the Trinity has nothing to offer us but their self. (that is everything) In that offering we are invited into that relationship, to recognize our Christ self, but only if we are willing to suffer with Christ.
It Not a suffering of slavery or oppression, the bible is clear about that even if the Church hasn’t always been. But it is a suffering of letting go of that which holds us in slavery. Your image, your fears, your stuff, success. This suffering is the place of the cross, the place we would not otherwise go if not for Love. look at the Cross, how did we ever get in our heads as a church, that what we are called to is success, or being on the winning side, or even happiness? Success tells us that who we are is achieved by our own hands, by our own deeds. Jesus tells us that who we truly are can never be changed but only recognized through failure, though a dying of self and so our failures and our suffering are GIFTS!!!
Not a popular message these days but one that we need if we are going to do anything worth doing. If we are going to save this world and our love ones from those that wish to destroy. My testimony to you is this, In my worst times, in my greatest sufferings, what felt like dying was simply Grace pruning me and more often than not I only recognize it after the fact. But what I seek, what I hope to guide my children to seek is to be able to recognize God moving in the moment no matter what that moment is. That is what it means to be led by the Spirit. To do in spite of doubt and to believe without seeing.