Laughing with

There is a wonderful song by Regina Spector called, “Laughing with”. If you haven’t heard it, not to worry, my youngest daughter tells me that I have terrible taste in music, so this could be the reason. But I have always loved this song, because of her voice, because of the music and because of the message. The song goes like this:

No one laughs at God in the Hospital,
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God
When they’re starving or freezing
Or so very poor.

No one laughs at God when the doctor calls
After some routine tests
No one laughing at God
When it’s gotten real late
Their kid’s not back from a party yet

No one laughs at God when their airplane
Starts to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God
When they see the one they love
Hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that it’s a mistake

No one laughs at God
When the cops knock on their door
And they say “We have some bad news, sir”
No one’s laughing at God
When there’s a famine, fire or a flood …

What is interesting about the song is the way that it describes how we try to put God in a box. How we put conditions and limits on God, who He is and how we should talk with Him. We try to make God neat and simple and only pull Him out when we are needy, or lonely, or sad. That is not so say that God is only for the sad times, after all He can be funny too. “Did you see the sunrise”, or “the sunset” or “the snow on the mountain”. I can tell you from personal experience that the Holy Spirit can be hilarious. My mother still is not sure how the Bishop ever agreed to ordain me. She actually told the bishop what a terrible son when I was growing up. She conditioned that by saying that I was better now. I mean, look at me in this dress! Do you think that it makes me look fat? How did I get to be a Deacon?

The song goes on to talk about “How God could be funny …

At a cocktail party while listening to
A good god-themed joke
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket
And Santa Claus
God could be so hilarious

Think for a moment about our relationship with God. If I were to approach any one of you and say that I want to have a deep, personal, individual, relationship with you would your first response be, “great what do I get out of it?” Wouldn’t your response be “I’d like that, let’s go for a cup of coffee.” Or “yeah, me too, let’s go for a hike, or for a bike ride, or go skiing”. We would never think to say, “Great, let me have your number and I will text you the next time my flight starts to shake uncontrollably”.

Maybe it’s God’s fault. Maybe He has set up this codependent relationship where we expect Him to come to our rescue. You know, God swoops in just in the nick of time when we haven’t studied for that test, or we haven’t left ourselves enough time to get to that meeting. You know, those “big miracle moments”. You have heard the story of the man that was really late for a meeting, and he was driving around a parking lot praying that God would open a parking space for him? “Dear Lord if you could just open one parking space for me I would be …. Oh, never mind. I found one.” The problem with this is that God hasn’t done anything really big for a really long time. All those miracles in the bible got a lot of press back then but not so much lately.

Those were some great miracles. My favorite one was the time where he was preaching at a friend’s house. And there are so many people that you couldn’t even squeeze yourself into the parlor to see him, so these two guys got really creative. They had a friend, let’s call him Stuie, that couldn’t walk, he was paralyzed, and they knew that if Jesus could just touch Stuie he would be cured. So they climbed up on the roof, broke a large hole all the way through the ceiling and lowered Stuie down into the living room on this stretcher tied to these long ropes. This was brilliant! Talk about ingenuity, talk about perseverance, talk about homeowner insurance claims.

Think about what was going through Jesus’ mind … He’s talking and all of a sudden, the ceiling caves in and here comes Stuie on this stretcher right down in the middle of everything! So what does he do? He reaches out, takes Stuie by the hand and says “Get up,” AND HE DOES!!! I mean, before he left Jesus probably leaned over to Stuie and said, “someone is going to fix the hole in the roof, right?” but other than that He didn’t put any conditions on His love. There were no strings attached to his gift, no pun intended. He just said, “Get up”.

In today’s Gospel we hear that Jesus had been teaching to a group of 4,000 people for a couple of days. They were so intent on hearing him talk that they hadn’t had much to eat or drink. So Jesus said: “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?” Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They replied, “Seven.”

Seven? Are you kidding me, 4,000 people and the best that they could come up with was seven loaves of bread? You just know that somebody was sandbagging! Then he turned to the apostles and asked what could they do. They turned back to Jesus and said something like, “hey don’t look at me. You know that my Visa is maxed out. The local Subway is closed, and the nearest burger King is about 4 miles back”. So, he took the 7 loves, multiplied them and fed everyone.

Now that was a good old-fashioned miracle! That’s the kind of miracle that we could use today. Imagine the headlines, “Son of God feeds thousands, end of hunger can’t be far away”. Hmmmmm, maybe not … they would probably read … “thousands forced to eat high carb diet, experts concerned.” Or “Local commerce impacted by senseless act of single sourcing. Local baker in uproar”.

“He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.” ”they ate and were satisfied.”

What would we do? How would we respond? Are we even ready for a miracle like that? If we saw one, would we even know it. Today we heard of God feeding thousands. Don’t we see that same God feeding 1.2 billion practicing Catholics every week? In every church, in every tabernacle around the world? One man two thousand years ago took 7 loaves and fed 4 thousand. And all were amazed. The next day he took 12 apostles and today feeds billions and we don’t even bat an eye.

“God took Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” and we take that for granted. We are allowed to walk into this building, with reverence, and sit down, humbly, and be with our God, lovingly, and that doesn’t blow our minds? We are allowed to stand or kneel at this altar and receive the real presence of our Savior in our hands, or on our tongue, it doesn’t matter which one because there is not one part of my body, my being, my presence that is even close to being worthy enough to touch that gift, and we are not totally taken aback. We should have our tongues coated with gold, or our hands covered with diamonds. Or our patens made of vibranium, isn’t that the special stuff that they mine in Wakanda? The fact is that there is not one part of my body that is worthy to stand in front of that altar and hold the body of Christ before you and yet He calls me to that ultimate, undeserved generosity and I am not rendered to my core?

“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has ready for those who love him”
If I asked you to be my lifelong friend, what is the first thing that we would want to do together? If I told you that I loved you with my entire being and would give up my life for you, what is the first thing that we would say to each other.

His heart was so, “moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with [Him] now for three days and [have] nothing to eat.”

No one’s laughing at God when they have nothing to eat, but He can be so funny. All that we have to do is take Him out of that box, take Him to a movie, join Him for a walk. Experience the everyday miracle of that love that He multiples in each one of us every day.

MK 8:1-10

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat,
Jesus summoned the disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
because they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat.

If I send them away hungry to their homes,
they will collapse on the way,
and some of them have come a great distance.”
His disciples answered him, “Where can anyone get enough bread
to satisfy them here in this deserted place?”
Still he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?”
They replied, “Seven.”

He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground.
Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them,
and gave them to his disciples to distribute,
and they distributed them to the crowd.
They also had a few fish.
He said the blessing over them
and ordered them distributed also.
They ate and were satisfied.
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets.
There were about four thousand people.

He dismissed the crowd and got into the boat with his disciples
and came to the region of Dalmanutha.

February 6, 2022

February 6, 2022

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