The other day I was driving around the Montrose area and my cell phone stopped working. I couldn’t believe it, I hadn’t gone over any steep hill, hadn’t gone around any sharp corner, hadn’t gone under any underpasses it just stopped getting signal. So, I did want any rational thinking, well educated, tech savvy person would do …. I shook it.
Of course, that did nothing, and about 5 minutes later I had four full bars, so all was right with the world, but it made me realize that I have absolutely no idea how my cell phone works, and I was okay with that. Here is something that I count on so desperately, and I haven’t a clue as to what makes it work. To say that I have a basic working knowledge of the concepts and principals of cellular communications would be a bold face lie.
Here is what I know, when I talk into my cell phone my voice gets broken down into super small bits of energy, or particles, and are beamed out into all direction until they are caught by a cell tower where they are reassembled by fairies and shoved into wires so that they can travel to another tower somewhere. It is very complicated and detailed, so I won’t bore you with all of the specifics but needless to say … I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about.
When some of us were younger, everything had an antenna and they made sense. If the image on the television wasn’t clear you would get up from your chair and walk over to the set. You would then stand on one leg (left for even channels and right for odd channels) and start moving one or both antennae around until the image cleared up and then you would stand there until the show was over. Now those were the good old days when EVERYTHING made sense.
The fact is that they didn’t make sense, but we accepted them. They say that “seeing is believing” but that isn’t true, is it? Seeing isn’t believing it is accepting. I don’t really believe that little fairies reassemble my cell signals and send them on their way, I just accept that it gets done. Look around you and see all of the things that we accept. Traffic signal, how do they just know when I am running late? Garbage disposals, how do they know when our best forks have slipped past me and are down in there? The perfect sunrise, how does it know that I just need something amazing at that moment to take my mind off of … whatever?
What is really amazing is not the things that we accept it is the things that we do not. If seeing is accepting, then what about those things that we can’t see. If we started with the idea that “seeing is believing” and said “well maybe not” then what about flipping it. What if we say that “believing is seeing”? What if we look at those things that we can see better, or see only, through the eyes of faith. For example, I see the love of my family because I believe it. I see the love that the Lord has for me because I believe that He so loved the world that He sent His only son.
Those are the easy things, what about those things that are not so easy? What about when we see the love that the Lord has for those people over there? That love is painfully on display when we see the crucifix, that is how much love He had for them and yet we choose not to believe that we should love them equally?
What about when we see the real presence of our Lord in the eucharist? Are we questioning His ability to be present if He chooses, after all He did create the entire universe? Are we questioning whether He loves us that much, after all He knew us before we were born and accepted death on the cross knowing full well who we are? Do we think that that much love can only be contained in one act, on one day, in one place? His love is too great to be put into one figurine, one statue, one sacristy.
Today’s readings are funny readings. In the first reading Elisha throws a huge barbeque using his oxen for the meat and his farm equipment for the firewood. James and John want to call down fire onto an offending Samaritan village. One man wants to follow Jesus but has a few things to do first. One man wants to pause in his plowing of a field to look back and admire the great job that he has done.
There is a great book by CS Lewis, called The Screwtape Letters. It chronicles the letters between a senior devil and his nephew apprentice. In one correspondence, the senior Wormwood reprimands the novice Screwtape for challenging the “truth” in his prospective conquest. He tells him that he should never challenge the “truth” because he will always loose. It is better to distract and misdirect. If his human wants to go to church, praise him for such a great idea but suggest that he should first go for breakfast so that he can go to church on a full stomach, ready to worship with all of his strength.
How often are we tempted by well-intentioned distractions? We are so ready to fully commit to following the Lord, but we just have a few things to get straightened away first. Saint Augustine is credited with saying, “lord give me the strength to commit to and follow you fully … just not right now”. Sure, Jesus died on the cross to save all people, but it really says all people of faith and they are clearly not of faith I mean they just took my parking space and cut me off. Last weekend we celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi. We did not celebrate the symbol of the body of Christ we celebrated the feast of the body of Christ. Across our country, across our diocese, we will be celebrating a year of eucharist revival. Not a year of eucharistic symbolism, or eucharist representation but of eucharist revival. We can not be distracted by well-intentioned nuances, or rationalizations. This is simple Christ came to this earth because He loves us then, now and forever. We are not latchkey children. Jesus did not say that he was going to leave us, to go up to His father, and “by the way, bee good, do what I did, and I hope to see you soon.” That is just ridiculous. He died on the cross because He wants our sins to be forgiven then, now and forever He wants to be, he is here with us in the real presence then, now and forever. This isn’t really that hard to see, it is the foundation of what we believe.
It is true that I will never understand how my cellphone works. Goodness gracious, I have enough trouble understanding how to program my smart TV. Those things I will accept. But that should not be the case for those things that we say that we believe. Believing is seeing and we have to look, we have to look at the tabernacle differently. We have to look at the eucharist different. We may never understand how but we have to know that He loves us so much that this is possible, that anything is possible.
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening; you have the words of everlasting life. I will not be distracted. You are the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through you.
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”
June 20, 2022
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