Deacon Blog July 21, 2019
Wisdom of The Ages
One comment I received last week revealed that a situation I over-looked is the reality that many today are against any labeling, feeling the need to disconnect from any one group or established theology, for the sake of exposure to other “wisdom” out there. They are actually called the “Nones”, or non-affiliated. This group believes in GOD but shies away from identifying with an organized theology. They are in fact the fastest growing segment of young “spiritualists”. They can pull from a certain teaching or just “assemble” the parts as they identify with them, but they are a reality we should acknowledge and work to understand. It can tell us a lot about how our message is shared and received by our younger generation.
Often, I have had people tell me about how much they appreciate or identify with Native American beliefs, or any native group for that matter. I agree with them. The core philosophies of the ancient or native peoples are beautiful and full of the Creator’s Love. They love and respect all life as sacred, from animals to the earth, and all things are connected to each other. While I realize many of these beliefs pre-date Christianity, they do not pre-date GOD and HIS creation and all these ideas are contained in the life and example modeled by Christ…and then some. Only the “language” is different, much in the way of the symbolism used. Ancient ways are full of GOD’s wisdom, but the images and expressions used to explain them are for ancient people. In Christ we find, fully accomplished, the “Way, the Truth, and the Life”… in total and for all ages. The Way to live in holiness, the Fullness of GOD’s Truth, and the resulting Life we were all created to live. The “completed” Word of GOD is explained and modeled for us in a way that affords us access to an essential understanding and meaning in life. This paradigm is similar to the way the Old Testament was “fulfilled” by Jesus. Concepts of unconditional love, complete forgiveness, and eternal peace are the cornerstone contained in Jesus’ message that were not so understood in ancient Judaism or Middle Eastern society. Everything changed when the Messiah came to earth. The native peoples held some ancient truths but it was partial and incomplete. We can only see this when we stop identifying or accepting just the practices we like but examine every belief and behavior they followed. What we have to seek out and accept is the message that fully provides humanity’s transition to a heavenly image (when followed). Everything we do as a Church is rooted in the belief that the Son of the Most High came to rescue humanity from the debilitating effects of Sin. Maybe this should be our jumping off point this week. It is very possible (and likely, on a certain level) that our level of acceptance for this statement lies at the core of our devotion and practice in a religion.
I remember as a young man being overwhelmed by the mystery and “un-substantiated” claims of Christianity. My heart was telling me (for some reason) truth was contained in the Church, but I wasn’t clear on “which” truth and how it translated to me two-thousand years “after the fact”. It may have been “truth” for them, in that time, but what was my relationship with it. I spent considerable time trying to be comfortable with this… and I struggled. It was tough because I was also just learning to understand what a “truth” is, as in a reality of life that does not change, no matter how much time is past, situations alter, or who the audience is. I feel strongly that we do not consider this concept enough, and maybe that is a failure of those who occupy the pulpit. We, as in humanity, also struggle to accept concepts that don’t follow our conventional rationale or “common sense”. As an example, our notion of justice. We tend to view it in the form of retribution. Quid pro quo. A certain crime requires a certain punishment, this sin results in a certain eternal destination. GOD’s justice is rooted and finds its essence in LOVE. While “natural law” has “natural results” (such as playing golf in a lightning storm), the FATHER’s love always provides a remedy from punishment that seeks only the retributive conclusion. Humanity’s justice says “you do the crime, you do the time”. GOD’s justice says, “I will never leave you or forsake you”. Without qualification.
Since the Resurrection, a certain tension has existed that pits GOD’s ways against man’s thoughts. Resolutions to our worldly struggles never happen quickly enough or to everyone’s satisfaction. Because of this, people have persisted in rebelling against a logic they find impossible to accept. Hence the wars and capital punishment we just can’t seem to shake off. Despite over two thousand years of failure in the administration of peaceful goals. Truth is, we just won’t give peace a chance. We talk about it, we set goals, but war and violence is always “on the table”. The Kingdom of Heaven says “remove war and vengeance” from the equation, replace it with respect and genuine concern for others, and a conversation about real peace can begin. The Covenant of Marriage is the same. With “one eye on the exit”, it is difficult to engage in an ongoing relationship and not have it wobble when times are tough. Wobble enough and over it goes. All of this is a “long way” of saying, GOD’s ways are not our ways and we are always going to struggle trying to think the way HE does. At some point in our faith lives we have to acknowledge who GOD is, and accept in faith, what the Church teaches us about the life of Christ. At the same time, the onus is on us to keep studying the WORD through Sacred reading, contemplation, and prayer so our understanding can catch-up to our stated belief. We have seen this played out even in the Church with the abuse scandals. We cannot serve GOD by professing a Faith and then doing something different. The Letter of James, who was the cousin of our LORD, states this very clearly and eloquently. Our Profession of Faith in a risen Lord is an enlistment in a purpose and mission initiated by Christ. A cause above ALL causes. A purpose never accomplished by merely attending Holy MASS. Our beautiful worship experience is intended to “prepare us” for the work to be done outside the church. The glorification of GOD, the consumption of Jesus’ Body and Blood, the proclamation of Heaven’s Holy Word All strengthen us to live lives of Love, Joy, and Peaceful service to the FATHER of us all.
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
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