Let God be God

03-24-2013AllFr. John

Dear Friends,

As we enter into the week we call Holy we begin with the crowds who sing "Hosanna's" to Jesus as he enters Jerusalem but we will end the week with them by shouting "Crucify him". There are moments when we want a Savior of our own making and moments when we reject the type of Savior that God offers us. How much do we want a God who comes to us on our terms yet spurn the God who comes to us on His terms?

Having a god of our own making is to have a god that is too small and too paralyzed to fix a broken world. Besides a god of our own making would confirm our prejudices, bigotries, intolerances and fears. Such a god would also let us off the hook for our own infidelities, betrayals, and sins. And that is why we want such a god. But the God who comes to us on his own terms is not the God of our expectations. This is why the crowds turned on Jesus: he simply was not the Messiah they were expecting nor wanting.

Isn't this what's behind all the commentary on who the new Pope should be and what he should do? For these reasons we're told the new Pope should cave into all our worldly ways of thinking in order to make the Church and the Faith "relevant". In other words he should make the Church into what popular opinion wants it to be. This is a backdoor way into creating a god of our own making. But the Pope or a Bishop or a pastor can't give us the god we want but rather is bound to give God on God's terms. Anything else is a product of our self- will.

Funny over the last several weeks of listening to the talking heads drone on about the new pope and the "crisis" in the Church, the person who made the most sense was an atheist. When asked if the Pope should change the usual litany of things (birth control, marriage, celibacy) Penn Jillette, author of Everyday is an Atheist Holiday, said, "I think I may be somebody who believes in the Pope's position more than most Catholics. . . . if you have someone who is a conduit to God and is speaking God's word, even if you can't understand exactly what God's plan is . . . that still doesn't mean you get to vote on what God actually believes."

That's something to think about as we enter into Holy Week. What prevents a person from letting God be God? If we let God be God then we allow him to have sway over our lives, even the intimate details of our lives. If not, we spend most of our spiritual energy fighting God and forcing Him to meet our demands on our terms. And being very angry when He doesn't. Over the last few weeks I have seen poll upon poll citing US Catholics positions on this or that Church teaching. The results are usually depressing to me until you realize that there is a big difference in the answers given to pollsters by Catholics who attend Mass on a regular basis and those who don't. Catholics who attend Church regularly pretty much uphold Church teaching while Catholics who don't practice their faith don't uphold Church teaching but go along with most secular values just as you would expect. These are those who need to be the object of the "new evangelization" since these are those who fight the hardest to have a god of their own making. So often these are they who are closest to us, our families and neighbors who no longer accompany us to Church nor are willing to accompany Jesus to Jerusalem. These are whom we must first reach out to and invite back into the Church.

So it falls to us to offer them a compelling understanding of Jesus Christ and why He and He alone can reveal the true face of God. This takes work to deconstruct the god made in the image and likeness of self so as to see our true spiritual bankruptcy. But before we go out to bring others back to Christ we must receive Him and welcome Him into our hearts.

We look to Jesus, Whom we welcomed today into the city and Whom we'll accompany during this whole week, until His glorious resurrection, and we ask Him: Jesus, show me how to open my heart. Jesus, send Your Holy Spirit to open my heart. Send Your Holy Spirit to this city that it may open its streets, its homes, its families. Jesus, teach me to go out on the street and shout like those, on that day in Jerusalem: Blessed are You who come to save us in the name of God. May it be thus.
—Pope Francis on Palm Sunday 2008

Love, Fr. John B.

P.S. Please plan to join us for Holy Week Services, most especially the Easter Vigil. If you have never attended an Easter Vigil you are not 110% Catholic! And if you have not attended one at Mt. Carmel you have missed the best Liturgy ever! Hope to see you there!