Sunday, July 14, 2013

God isn't hard to find; we've made ourselves blind (Sunday homily)

What does Moses say in the first reading?
God’s commands aren’t mysterious.
They are frequently hard to live by—but they aren’t hard to find.

I wonder if anyone here does what I do.
If I can’t get the phone to do what I want, I say, “stupid phone!”
If the computer doesn’t bend to my will: “stupid computer!”
If I start the coffee and come back 5 minutes later
and it’s all over the counter, what do I say? “Stupid coffee pot!”

You get the idea? It’s never a failing in myself!
So it is with God’s Law.
If we find it hard to live by,
instead of considering that the flaw is in ourselves,
what do we say: “Stupid commandments!”

Before electric light was common,
when you walked out of your house at night and looked up—
even here in the heart of the city—
you could see the splendor of the Milky Way Galaxy adorning the dark sky.
Now, because of the wonders of electric light—and it is a wonder—
all that is invisible to us.

It’s not that the galaxy is hard to see;
but that we, in our opulence, have blinded ourselves.
And we’ve done exactly the same with God’s Law.

In these United States, in this year of our Lord 2013,
our culture and society are evolving in ways no human society has ever developed.
Never in history has any nation been so collectively prosperous.
Think about the sort of “food crises” we have in America. Not shortage—too much.

We have such abundance that we actually have “gourmet pet food.”
They offer “pet breakfast”; “pet appetizers” and “restaurant-inspired” cat food.

I didn’t know cats had restaurants.
In fact, I’m pretty sure when cats “go out to eat,” it’s a trash can!
This is pure, human vanity.

Look at our technology. We think we can do anything.
We have pushbutton war; and there is nowhere to hide.
We have taken control over life, from it’s very conception.
We routinely manipulate unborn children from the earliest stages—
some are allowed to live, some are destroyed,
while others are turned into commodities for science.

At this late stage of our culture,
we have convinced ourselves that everything can be reinvented and reconstructed:
Marriage, family, human life itself.

But here is the weirdest thing of all:
That everything I just described (and more) is considered “normal.”
It’s not normal. Not even “the new normal.”
It’s the greatest experiment in human history.
And it’s a little early to congratulate our success.

We tell ourselves we’re finally “in control”—but are we really?

It suddenly occurs to me that we may have an answer
to one of the most difficult questions ever:
why does God allow poverty and suffering?

And the answer might be this: that when we face—
not on TV, but right before our eyes—
a fellow human being, hungry, poor, in pain, in distress,
That explodes the illusion created by our vanity and pride.

What did our Lord say: “the poor you will always have.”
He didn’t mean, so don’t bother.
What he might have meant, however,
was that whenever we think we can handle anything—
look at the reality of poverty.

We think we can fix anything? Well, we haven’t fixed that.
So much for our pride. Pride says, “we’ll fix it!”
Humility says, “we’ll do what we can.”

And so it also occurs to me that God’s decision to enter history
by becoming one of us, in Jesus Christ,
is more important and more necessary than ever.

Just as coming face-to-face with true poverty
and suffering blows up the illusions of our power,
so the encounter with Jesus, God become man,
exposes as hollow our claims that God is invisible: we can’t find him.

We don’t have to find God. He found us.
The Light of God, like the light of the stars, is there,
if only we can humbly dim the lights of our own vanity.
Then we’ll see Him again.

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