Sunday, February 9, 2020
Audio: click here!
Witnesses to Jesus are most important. Most important. Broken Christians are the worst thing for Christianity. Broken Catholics are the worst thing for Catholicism.
When my microwave broke, what was the good of keeping it? I couldn't pull it off the wall and use it as a decorative piece, and had no way of incorporating it into my Christmas decorations.
Even worse if this happens more than once.
My sister Katie (in high school) with her hair straighteners. She bought two in a row that both failed soon after purchase. She eventually wrote a letter to the company that ended with quite a powerful line, "Could you please let me know I can stop wasting my money?" They got the message and sent her two new hair curlers, and maybe other stuff, to make up for it. The point is, if it ain't doing its job, it's a waste.
Paul VI (Evangelii Nuntiandi 41): "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses." St. Peter expressed this well when he held up the example of a reverent and chaste life that wins over even without a word those who refuse to obey the word. It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity.
To put it one other way before we move on, I will use an example from one of the books given away at Christmas: Jesus Shock (below)
God has required that witness to be concrete for thousands of years, even before Christianity. Isaiah makes it clear today that we must live the command of the Lord to “be holy, as He is holy” especially through living justice as we heard today in the first reading:
So the challenge today is: how are we witnessing? What are we doing to bear fruit? How is Jesus working through us? What is the evidence that shows we are alive?
It could happen in a thousand ways, but the Church invites us to get disturbingly concrete.
Ask God to show you ONE way that you can get concrete in one way of being salt and light in our world. To show others that there's more to Christianity than broken, zombie Christians.
Jesus Shock by Peter Kreeft, referenced Socrates meets Jesus by Peter Kreeft
Socrates: “Rather, I must ask another question. I fear it will be misunderstood and prove embarrassing, so please be patient with me and try very hard not to misunderstand my motives in asking it.
Class: Sure, Socrates. [Accommodating, open, inviting looks.]
Bertha [impatient, interested]: What's the question?
Socrates: Where are the Christians? [Whole class looks shocked and puzzled.]
Bertha: What do you mean? They're all over the place.
Socrates: This place?
Bertha: Of course this place, and many other places too.
Socrates: Then there is something I do not understand.
Bertha: What's that?
Socrates: If you are all Christians, if some of you are Christians, if any of you are Christians-how could your life be the same? How could you look the same, talk the same, think the same? How could the born child so closely resemble the unborn child? How could your life be so ... so bland, if this incredible thing is true?
Molly: Socrates, are you putting us down?
Socrates: Alas, that is what I feared you would think. That's why the question is so embarrassing. Look here, I am certainly no expert in this Christianity thing; I have only discovered it in the last few days, so far be it from me to tell you or anyone what it all really amounts to. But this book of yours does tell us-all of us, me as well as you-what it all amounts to. And if everything thing in this book is true, then what it amounts to compared to everything else I have ever known is like a whale compared to minnows.
Fesser: It's nice of you to take the New Testament so seriously, Socrates, but ... Socrates: Nice? Did you say nice?”
“Fesser [annoyed yet interested]: Exactly what do you find missing, Socrates?
Fesser: Surely you of all people could explain a bit more clearly.
Socrates: I shall certainly try. See here, if I understand this book, it claims that the supreme Creator-God became a man so that men and women could become gods and goddesses. "Partakers in the divine nature," it says. How could anything be the same after that, if it really happens?
Fesser: Oh, well, now, that is something of a bone of contention. Should we interpret the metaphor of participating in the divine nature to refer to a literal, historical event, or is it instead a mythological expression, not to be taken literally?
Socrates: A myth? Do you think it is a myth?
Fesser: Some do, some don't.
Socrates: And you? What do you think?
Fesser [uncomfortable]: That is not the issue here. This is an academic classroom, not a revival meeting. [Some giggle.]
Bertha [trying to bail Fesser out]: Socrates, are you asking why we aren't all saints?
Socrates: No, not if you mean heroes of perfection. The people in your Bible were not that. All of them had flaws-unlike the heroes and heroines of the fiction of my culture. That is one of the reasons your book seems to be factual, by the way. No, I'm asking about something else, something that's hard to define but easy to recognize, I think, though the only place I have recognized nized it so far is in this book. Let me put it this way. When I read about this man Jesus and about his disciples and about his "called-out-ones" (that's what church means, doesn't it?)-when I read this, I find something so unmistakable, so distinctive, so strong and full of life and joy, that it's like the noonday sun. If all these things really happened, then it's no wonder that the whole world was turned upside down, as your book says, even the hard-nosed Roman world. It's no wonder the people who met Christ either worshiped him or crucified him. And it's no wonder the people who met his disciples either believed them and worshiped him, or didn't believe them and persecuted them for telling this abominable, insane he. It's got to be all or nothing, either-or.
Fesser: Are you defending fanaticism, Socrates?
Fesser: What, then?
Socrates: Something more like marriage. In-loveness. Fidelity.
Fesser: And what do you think you see around you instead?
Socrates: Scholarship. Teachers and students playing at a game, like children playing safari while there is a real lion lurking in their own front yard. You think you are studying a dead man, don't you? - a man like myself as I was until a few days ago, rather than someone alive, and present, and active, as I am now. Isn't that how you see it?
Bertha: But Socrates, Jesus isn't here as you are here.
Socrates: Your book says that he is. His disciples believed and acted as if he was. He himself promised to be. If it's not a myth, if he really rose from the dead, then he's not dead, but alive, like an animal-at least as alive as an animal.”