For some time now, I have been wrestling with the idea that is often proposed by Christians. More often than not, this idea is presented in those "NOTW" stickers that so many people put on their cars. I am well aware that this is a fad and that to proclaim to the world that I am not of it, is a badge of honor that most Christians choose to display as they're zooming at 10 miles over the speed limit, riding your rear bumper. I'm sure its because they are late for church. The problem with this fad, however, is that it represents a counter argument to everything that the Christian message and Christ's resurrections represent. First of all, it is a gimmick that someone invented and has made a significant amount of money off of, like sheep (and not the Jesus kind) so many of us have fallen over ourselves to proclaim our love of Jesus by purchasing these gimmicks and displaying them proudly. Good for you, but where is the essence of the Christian, an essence that calls us to be a part of the world in a radically different manner? As I have encountered God, I have come to realize that God's divine and unending love is not to be contained, and it is not to be relegated to a Heaven that is unattainable unless you have those stickers on your car. I have come to recognize that what Christ does in His resurrection is to give each and every one of us a new dignity, or rather, he calls us to celebrate that dignity that is inherent to each and every one of us, no matter what! To that end, the Gospel message of Christ's resurrection isn't that we are liberated of those things that make the world "icky," instead, the Gospel message is that even in the midst of those things that we find difficult to understand or accept, God's love is at work. Even in the profound darkness of death, God is alive and just was we want to run to the bosom of Jesus and escape the world, we are sent. Jesus tells Mary Magdalene to not touch him and then to go to Galillee. In other words, don't stick to the old ways, the familiar ways of doing things, and don't buy those stupid bumper stickers, LIVE YOUR LIFE and GO! That is what is most amazing about the love of God and Christ's resurrection, that through his resurrection, we are redeemed in a manner that should make us fearless as we face the world, not it's judge or hiding from it, but fearless as we celebrate our very own beauty and love. Too many preachers proclaim that to belong to God, one must be as sinless as possible or at the very least, one must be not of this world. I say, no! I am of this world because this world is beautiful! You are beautiful! I am beautiful! And I will not live in fear because I know that I am loved. Celebrate who you are and be of this world because it is here that God is at work, and it is here that God calls us beyond the darkness of death into the glory of life! May you be blessed for you are beautiful and you are loved!
13 April 2017
For many people, today is Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday. It is a day in which Lent is over and the Triduum begins. Today is a day during which many people will reflect on the call of Jesus to serve each other in love. He shows us this by removing his outer garments and washing the feet of those who had gathered around him. I can only imagine that some of them were quite shocked to see their teacher doing the work of a servant. Peter even tried to stop him, but then relented when reminded that this action was not merely an action of habit, or tradition, but one of love. It's funny that even though they had been with Jesus for quite a while, they were still not sure as to the motives of his actions. There is no doubt, this guy was weird, but the weirdness he lived was very intentional. The love he shared, was authentic and offered to all, but not all were able to receive the love with which Jesus served. Today, we celebrate the day in which Jesus commissioned his disciples to "take and eat, drink." It is a day that calls us back to the basics and which reminds us that a relationship with God is not difficult to attain, it's as simple as partaking of the Body of Christ. This day, however, calls me to a more profound reflection on my own journey as a disciple. I have been through a lot, and have seen even more, and while there were times during which I became angry or frustrated with God, i eventually learned that my anger and frustration was not of God, but of those who so easily proclaim the name of god, but do so as resounding cymbals. I know this is harsh to read, and I must admit, I feel somewhat awkward to write those words, but it is important to really call out in myself those things that are not of the Divine. In receiving the lessons today, I am called to recall the simplicity of God's love, a love that reaches out to me and everyone else just as the air we breathe. No, God cannot be lost by those things that I do or by those things that I think, God is always there, near to us and loving us, but all too often we fall into mind games that lead us to believe that we are of little or no worth. Or even worse, we become so-called rebels as we live lives away from God, only to find out that the true rebel is the one that celebrates his or her life all while recognizing the glory of God that is to be found in that authentic living. The call of Christ is not for each of us to be "holy rollers," instead, the call of Christ is to love, and to do so within our own unique capacity. All too often, we look for the holy as a sign of living a "good life," but today, even more than ever, those held in positions of "holiness," have proven to be nothing more that wolves in sheep's clothing. The love of God cannot and must not be contained, and it is an act of rebellion by its very nature. So as we celebrate this day, I will be rebellious by the love I share! I will be Christ-like in the way I serve and I will not be fooled by those who proclaim Christ but are really dark and cold tombs, vacant and without meaning. Christ is love and I vow to love! Be blessed for you are loved and you are beautiful! Fr. Rick