In the Kingdom by Faith

 

The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe. (Mark 1:15)

Faith. Faith in the divine Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not blind faith, or against reason–believing in the Kingdom of God actually makes more sense than anything else, all things considered. But nonetheless we must believe in what we cannot see, in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Faith is the only entrance. [Spanish.]

xt-kingWhat we see is: signs. We see love at work in this world. We see kindness and mercy. We see new beginnings and peaceful harmony, in quiet little corners. We see brothers and sisters who hunger and thirst for justice, willing to sacrifice themselves for others. We see how faith in what we can’t see makes the people we can see admirable and beautiful.

So we see signs of the heavenly life of God’s kingdom. But we don’t see it, the thing itself. Doesn’t mean it ain’t real. Nothing could be more real than the love that unites the Father and the Son–the same love that unites us, when we repent and believe. Nothing could be more real than heaven. But for us, for now, this wonderfully real thing is something in which we believe, rather than something we see. And by believing, we come to know and understand everything else that is worth knowing and understanding in life.

We believe that this kingdom–the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Christ–we believe that it involves the triumph of truth and justice. Parents have to teach their children that life isn’t fair. But in the Kingdom of God, it is. The One Who sees all, knows all, and balances everything equitably: He is the One Who assigns everyone his or her place and apportions all the goods in the Kingdom of God.

elgrecochristcrossIn the Kingdom of God, cheaters never prosper; liars never get away with it; evil deeds never get swept under the rug; the proud never crush the weak. In God’s kingdom, humble honesty always wins the reward it deserves.

Maybe you’re thinking: Father, what kind of other world is this? You say it’s real, but what you’re talking about sounds like a fantasy. The kingdom where compassion unites everyone of pure heart–that seems like a mere dream world, compared to the planet we actually know about.

Here on planet Earth, generations pass, and we don’t seem to learn any lessons about justice. Babies continue to get killed in the womb, racists continue to send orphans back to war zones, and husbands and wives still don’t know how to communicate with each other. What could possibly unite this fallen world with the supposed divine kingdom of Jesus Christ?

Ok. Reasonable question. Here’s the answer. Two things can and do unite planet Earth with the Kingdom of God.

1. The Cross. Jesus conquered the cosmos and became her king using one weapon. The most powerful weapon ever wielded. A weapon that makes both Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump look like little rocket men by comparison. The Cross.

By stretching out His arms on the cross, Jesus overcame all the evil of this generation, and every human generation, with one, single, definitive divine act. The world as we know it, with all its sins that cry to heaven for justice–this world, and the Kingdom of Heaven governed by the Prince of Peace: these two realms have a bridge between them. An open bridge, free of all tariffs and border control. The Holy Cross of Jesus’ sacrifice. Which brings us to…

2. Prayer. “Thy Kingdom come.” It might seem like the Kingdom of God only exists in some kind of fantasy realm of pure imagination. But, in fact, the Kingdom of God actually lies just one prayer away from right here.

Jesus always dwelt under the protection of His heavenly Father; He always lived in the Kingdom of God. Even as He hung on the cross, gasping for breath, in the bitterest agony. He cried out, “Abba, Father!” And Jesus knew that the Father heard Him.

Same goes for us. The Kingdom comes when we pray. We live in the Kingdom of God–when we pray. We might think our faith is faltering; we might think our hearts have become impure, when we cry out in desperation or confusion. But, actually, that is precisely when our prayer to the Father is the most intimate and holy–when we are the most desperate, and the most confused.

Lord, Your kingdom come! We can’t do it alone. We don’t know what we’re doing. Lord Jesus, we need a king, and we need it to be You.

Advertisements

The Green-Eyed Monster

Othello and Iago by Solomon Alexander Hart
“Othello and Iago” by Solomon Alexander Hart

Saul kept a jealous eye on David. (I Samuel 18:19)

From the desk of Snowbound Father Mark… A summary of Question 36 of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, part II-II: De Invidia.

Goodness makes us rejoice. Evil makes us sorrow.

We naturally want honor, a good name, a good reputation–and the prosperity that tends to go with a good reputation. But when we focus too much on winning the esteem of others, we grow vain.

We observe that sometimes people enjoy prosperity and a good reputation because they deserve it. But sometimes the unjust and undeserving prosper, and that makes us indignant.

When we meditate on the truths of the Christian faith, we recognize that success and prosperity in this world is one thing–relatively short lived. On the other hand, success and prosperity in the pursuit of holiness and eternal life–that’s another thing. That’s worth pursuing with zeal, with jealousy. May we all jealously strive to get to heaven.

While we do, we’ll forget about vanity. And we’ll learn to accept the fact that this world deals out rewards and punishments in an amazingly unfair way.

Divine love rejoices when anyone prospers with the truly beautiful goods of eternal life–with virtue and genuine excellence. By the same token, divine love sorrows and feels pity whenever a neighbor suffers.

When, on the other hand, we lose sight of the real goal of all our striving, and seek only success and recognition in this world, then we live in a state of competition with our peers. We sorrow at the neighbor’s achievement and excellence–because I think his or her success somehow harms me, makes me look like a loser by comparison.

Now, even good people experience twinges of envy–these twinges are venial sins. But if I forget heaven, grow vain, and let the green-eyed monster take over my my mind, I will gossip; I will tear down; I will hate. And then I will heartlessly rejoice at the misfortune of the one who has excelled me.

The rule to measure ourselves by: The loving, merciful person does not envy anyone–except the saints in heaven, whom he hopes to join. But the envious person shows no mercy.

Looking for God, Experiencing God

baptist-greco2

“What are you looking for?” The first words of Jesus recorded in the gospel of John. Christ asks this question of those who follow Him. Andrew and the other gentleman literally followed Christ–after they saw Him walk by and heard St. John the Baptist call Him the “Lamb of God.” [Spanish.]

“What are you looking for?” Christ asks us the same question, we who propose to follow Him as His disciples, here and now, 2018. What are we looking for?

How about: “We’re looking for God.” We seek our Maker, our Lord. We seek His true and eternal goodness and beauty. We behold His works: the splendid visible creation, and the great mystery of ourselves. We see from His handiwork that God has unimaginable power and knowledge. We long to share in His wisdom. We know that we can have no peace without His friendship.

St. Andrew and the other gentleman answered Jesus’ question by calling Him “rabbi.” A rabbi taught the Law, the wisdom of God. By addressing Jesus with this title, they said pretty much what we just said. That is, “Jesus, sir, teach us about God.”

They added a question of their own. “Where are you staying?”

Now, on the one hand, it’s a strange question to ask the Son of Man–Who had no place to rest His Head, Whose only true dwelling is with the Father. But, on the other hand, the question expresses genuine earnestness. It means: ‘Teacher, we want to learn from you, not just as religious tourists chasing curiosities. We want to follow You as real disciples, living in intimate closeness with You. We will give up our own homes, and we will make our home at Your feet.’

Can we say the same? We said that we follow Christ because we want God; we know that only God can give us true happiness and peace. Can we join St. Andrew and St. Peter in putting everything on the line for the sake of learning God’s wisdom from Jesus? Everything: all that we thought was ours, all that we thought we knew. Can we renounce every ounce of pride and self-satisfaction and put ourselves humbly at Jesus’ feet?

aquinasHe demands no less. “Come and see,” He says. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, this means: Come, follow Me, and experience true union with God. Experience it, because it cannot be explained using words alone.

Christianity is not something in which you can dabble. It’s not a hobby. It involves an all-encompassing experience of God’s revelation in Christ.

Yes, to be sure, the baby Jesus is lovable and cute. And God became just such a baby so as to communicate the indescribable tenderness and gentleness of His love.

But the cute baby grew up to become the High Priest Who baptizes with the unquenchable fire of the Holy Spirit. He grew into the rabbi who taught doctrine so demandingly sublime that His rivals came to hate Him for it, and they wanted Him dead.

Now: How can we possibly experience what Jesus demands that we experience? Namely, His Holy Spirit working in our souls, giving us an intimate union with Almighty God. Putting us in communion not just with the heavens and the earth, but with He Who made the heavens and the earth.

Well, if you expect me to have a complete answer to that question, think again. I’m hardly qualified to discourse about such holiness.

But we can say this much: We experience the work of the Holy Spirit in our souls when we stay close to Christ in His Church. He speaks to us through the Scriptures and all the words and works of the Sacred Liturgy; He fills us with His grace through the sacraments.

Yes, it’s amazing that this humble building of ours could house such mystical activity. It’s incredible that these simple ceremonies we do here actually involve God incarnate ministering to us. It’s hard to believe that we unremarkable individuals could find ourselves caught up in the work of the Holy Spirit of God. It’s amazing. But it’s true.

So let’s stay faithful to it. What more can we do, other than stay faithful? We can’t claim to understand the works of God. We certainly don’t know of anything more wonderful. So let’s stay faithful, and the Holy Spirit will do His work in us.

Dr. King, Nonviolence, Love, and Christ

Dr. Martin Luther KingThe leper, trusting in Christ, begged Him for help. The Lord was “moved with pity.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., outlined six principles of universal, nonviolent love:

  1. Love eschews violence, but remains spiritually active. The truly strong individual resists evil by non-violent persuasion.
  2. Love never seeks to defeat or humiliate. Love always resists evil, but only for the sake of winning the brother over to the good. Moral shame leads to reconciliation and harmony.
  3. Love resists, even attacks, the forces of evil. But not another person. Here’s a direct quote from Dr. King’s sermon ‘An Experiment in Love:’ “The nonviolent resister of racial injustice has the vision to see that the basic tension is not between races. The tension is, at bottom, between justice and injustice.”
  4. Love accepts suffering without resistance and embraces it “as a bridegroom enters the bride’s chamber.” Because suffering has “tremendous transforming possibilities.”
  5. Love not only avoids external violence. It avoids internal violence of the spirit, refusing to hate the neighbor who is an enemy. “Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate.” Love involves good will toward every human being, and does not discriminate between those worthy of love and those unworthy of it. Love willingly forgives “not seven times, but seventy times seven times.”
  6. Love involves faith in the goodness, justice, and love of the Almighty One, the One Who makes creation a unified whole.

In his time Dr. King had many followers who do not know the Sacred Scriptures very well, who missed many direct references to the Bible in the great man’s doctrine. Around the time of Dr. King’s death fifty years ago this April, a lot of the captains of culture thought that Dr. King taught something that “underlies” all the great religions, but does not require the practice of Christianity. I think he partially held that idea himself. But I would say that close scrutiny of Dr. King’s work, and the test of time, have proven that idea untenable.

From my relatively ill-informed point-of-view, Dr. King’s life and doctrine make no sense without Jesus Christ Himself at the center of the whole picture. Jesus Christ not simply as a teacher, although certainly Dr. King’s doctrine and witness rely on Jesus’ gospel. But the Lord Jesus is not just the pre-eminent teacher of Dr. King’s ideas. Underlying the ideas about nonviolence is the revelation of divine love, and the triumph of that love over evil, which occurred  with Christ’s incarnation and redemptive death and resurrection. That fact of history—the coming of the Christ–is what makes Dr. King’s teaching and life understandable, I would say. Maybe we can meditate on that, on MLK Day this year.

Capernaum History

Capernaum synagogue
A certain goofball with a name tag, listening to an expert, with a good priest and two lovely ladies, in the Capernaum Synagogue

Guess what? We will read today’s Holy-Mass gospel passage again, soon. On Super Bowl Sunday. I guess what I say that day about people being ill will depend on whether or not the NE Patriots make it into the Super Bowl yet again.

Seriously, though. At the beginning of St. Mark’s gospel we get a little insight into the closest thing to a “home life” that the Lord Jesus had during his ministry as a rabbi and healer. The city of Capernaum sat right on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Far enough away from Nazareth that the Lord did not count as a “local.” Here He got to know Sts. Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Matthew. And they began to believe in Him as the Christ.

This year we will keep many notable 50th anniversaries, since 1968 was such an eventful year. One notable event was: the archaeological excavations of Capernaum. In 1968 they discovered by digging that Christians had gathered and worshiped at one ancient house beginning in the first part of the first century AD.

In other words, the gospels and the science of archaeology came together in 1968 to unite us with the enchanting facts of history: here the Son of God lived and made a kind of home during his three year ministry. In the house where He healed St. Peter’s mother-in-law, and then she exercised her duties as a hostess towards Him. The house where people crowded to see Him, hear Him, touch Him.

We know the site; I’ve been there twice myself. It’s walking distance to the peaceful shore of the sea. Actually, Galilee is more like what we would call a lake. It is exactly double the size of Smith Mountain Lake. Lake Michigan could hold 350 Seas of Galilee.

excavation of house in Capernaum
The excavated Peter’s House site in Capernaum

The Galilean shore is just the kind of peaceful place where we could easily imagine the Lord Jesus strolling of the evening, rapt in prayer to the Father.

The point here, I think, is: The connection between Jesus Christ and us is real and verifiable on the most basic historical level. We don’t have to get all mystical and transcendent about it, to establish that we have a bond with Him.

That said, of course there is a mystical and transcendent connection, through Christ’s triumph over death and His Ascension into heaven; through the grace He gives us through the sacraments, especially His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.

But these two kinds of connection go hand-in-hand for us Christians. We’re connected to Jesus of Nazareth by the normal handing down of human memories, through the writing of books and the building of memorials in important spots. And we’re connected with Him by heavenly graces that transcend all the human workings of history. For us, these two kinds of connection both pertain to the one, fundamental bond we have with Him, namely, the love of His Heart for us.

Knowing the Meaning of “Love”

baptismchristgreco1I guess we could formulate the fundamental question of life in various ways.

Like “Why do I exist?” Or “Where is all this headed exactly?”

But one question that seems to distill everything to its essence would be:

Does God love me or not? Does God love and care about us bipeds with opposable thumbs, or not?

Massive catastrophes can and do befall the human race, leading us to suspect that the Omnipotent One does not love. Bomb-cyclone winter weather events. Sicknesses and early deaths. Think about all the people who drowned in the Great Flood. And even Noah and his family probably got sick and tired of floating on all that water.

But then God gave a sign about the answer to the question, Does God care? He gave a sign that the answer is Yes. A dove. The dove returned with an olive branch in its beak. Yes, God justly punishes sin. But that is not His primary interest. He more-ardently renews the earth with His mercy.

We say, “God is love.” We don’t really know what that means. We don’t know what the word ‘God’ means. And we don’t really know what the word ‘love’ means.

But we do not remain altogether baffled, because: The dove descended upon Christ. God and love: Christ reveals the truth of the matter. The Holy Spirit is God, is love, is fire and uncompromising justice, and comfort and healing oil and a gentle breeze.

Did the Flood make sense to the people who drowned? Or even to Noah and his family on the ark?

If we think we can even formulate the fundamental question of life—let alone answer it—without the one man Jesus Christ, living and real, Who has a Church; if we think there’s some science of reality, and of love, other than Him…

Well, I don’t know. But I’ll venture to predict that any other basis for coping with reality will ultimately collapse under the weight of reality itself.

On the other hand: the beloved Son, in Whom the Father is well pleased; the One Who knows how to say, Abba, Father; our Lord Who underwent the exodus of Calvary: He will assure us, with the witness of His indubitable beauty, that God does indeed love.

New Year, New Bishop, New Leaf

Wise, old men of different races came searching for a child whom the heavens had taught them to seek. They came looking for a unique king, newly born. The divine king, the One Who could unite the whole world, and give the human race the friendship of heaven. [Spanish.]

epiph 2018And here He is, the baby. In the arms of His virgin mother. Had the wise men thought that the newborn king would have a virgin mother? A mother like Mary–a poor, humble woman from an insignificant town? Had the magi imagined that the king of the world would have a foster father who was so dusty, and had such calloused hands, as St. Joseph; a man who did not own a single cushion to put on the meager furniture he had made for his household?

We don’t know what the travelers from the East expected exactly. But we know what they found–the king in his mother’s arms, with the carpenter nearby. Together these people form the scene that we now contemplate, the scene with which we begin every year. The arrival of the wise men at the feet of the baby Jesus: this marks the new year with it’s number, so to speak. We find ourselves 2,018 years into the revelation of divine light that shone on the face of Christ.

We don’t know what triumphs and tragedies may await us this year, in our little lives. To be sure, not all of us will celebrate Epiphany 2019 here on earth. We had a bishop named Francis Xavier DiLorenzo on Epiphany 2017. But not today.

But we also know this for sure: We belong to the scene we contemplate. We belong to the “thing” that began 2,018 years ago: the life of God made man, born of the lovely, humble Virgin. We ourselves make a part of His life–the earth’s great Teacher, High Priest, and true King. We belong to Him, because we belong to His Church. We will live this year, 2,018, with whatever it brings, as members of Jesus Christ’s household, His family, His very Body.

Bishop Barry Knestout portraitAnd it’s a big year for the Catholic family here in the little diocese of Richmond, Virginia. For four weeks now, if you’ve paid careful attention to all the prayers during the consecration of the Host and Chalice, you’ve heard mention of someone called “Barry, our bishop-designate.” This is the final Snday when we will call him that. Next Sunday, Barry will be simply “our bishop.” On Friday the Archbishop of Baltimore and Pope Francis’ representative to the US–not to mention some other Cardinals and Bishops–will come to Richmond to install Barry Knestout as our shepherd.

Now, the sitting bishop of a diocese doesn’t necessarily have a large impact on the lives of the Catholics in the parishes. The biggest thing is that, for good or ill, the bishop assigns the priests. Dear, late Bishop DiLorenzo inflicted me on Rocky Mount and Martinsville not once, but twice. So you have him to thank. Or not thank. God rest his soul.

But even though the bishop may wind-up being only a name to most, he nonetheless occupies an important place in our lives. We cannot remain united with the holy scene we contemplate at Christmas and Epiphany without the bishop. He unites us not only with the Church spread throughout the world, but also with the Church that extends back through time, to Her original foundation by Jesus Christ Himself.

And Barry our bishop wil have many quiet but highly important decisions and judgments to make. So we owe him our fervent prayers.

A new year and a new chapter in the two-century history of our diocese: a good time for us to take stock of our spiritual lives and make some resolutions–or renew the resolutions we made before, and which we have kept with varying degrees of success.

Anyone ever read St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life? He says that our spiritual lives are like a clock.

Now, St. Francis de Sales lived four hundred years ago. They had clocks back then, just not electric ones. And of course no cellphones. So you had to wind your clock. Everyday. And you had to take the clock apart completely, and clean it, every year.

Let’s do the same with our spiritual lives. A good, thorough evaluation of how we pray and how we commune with God. A good cleaning of the gears, and a fresh winding-up.

How about a humble suggestion from your pastor? Let’s all resolve to pray everyday, without fail, during 2018. And go to Mass every Sunday, without fail.

Fig-Tree Canopy

 

calling-of-philip-nathanael

Sitting under the fig tree. The prophets Micah and Zechariah both proclaim that the Messiah will come, will bring truth and justice to the earth, will take away the world’s sin—and then each Israelite will rest in the shade of his fig tree, with his neighbor, in peace.

At the time of Christ, zealous students of the Torah would spend time every day meditating, in the shade of a fig tree in the garden. They would always conclude their meditation by praying hard that the Messiah would come.

Let’s imagine that we all had fig trees, and that they offered not just shade, but also a sheath of warmth. You sit under your fig tree, and it’s 75 degrees.

All this might help us understand the dramatic change of heart which Nathanael had in his conversation about Christ, and with Christ, narrated in John 1. Philip says to Nathanael, “We have found the Messiah!” Nathanael basically responds, “Yeah, right.” Then Jesus says to Nathanael, “I saw you under the fig tree.” And Nathanael cries out, “Yes, the Messiah!”

But even more amazing is what Lord Jesus says next. Again: we’re on the right track when we grasp that the fig tree offered a physical and spiritual canopy for the Israelite. A fig tree meant: a canopy of prayer and holiness, a place to live a genuinely humane life in communion with God, protection from chaos and confusion.

But Christ says to Nathanael: this symbol actually communicates true reality, no matter where you are. For Jesus, the wide open sky is the fig tree of the Israelite. The Messiah lives under the canopy of the Father’s love and protection always. There is nowhere, Golgatha included, where the branches of that loving protection do not reach. For Christ, the fig tree is nothing other than the great heaven above, because the Father always hears the prayers of the Son.

And all this goes for us, too, when we are in the Son. The Father is the Son’s fig tree, and the Son is ours (which means the Father is ours, too.)

The Messiah has come. And He spread out His own arms on the branches of a tree. To give us the shade that the holy fig tree gives the Israelite, wherever we are. The shade of Christ’s cross always offers us a canopy of holiness.

Another 1968?

 

Le Pape Paul VI A New York

On the eighth day after His birth, the newborn Israelite boy was circumcised and given His Name… Which means: “God saves.”

The pope has declared Jesus’ circumcision day to be the “World Day of Peace.” Monday was the 50th World Day of Peace. Which means the first one was: January 1, 1968. Let’s see; what happened that year?

Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated. Robert Kennedy assassinated. Riots in Washington, DC, Chicago, Baltimore, Kansas City, Wilmington DE, and Louisville KY. The Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Protests, shootings, and Black-Power fists at the Olympics in Mexico City. The students shut down Columbia University. Riots in Paris. Prague Spring—then Soviet tanks rolled in. President Johnson won’t run for re-election. Nixon wins the presidency.

Also: Blessed Pope Paul VI taught definitively that artificial birth control is immoral, and he approved the revised Order of the Mass.

1968 was not, actually, pure chaos. Pope Paul and President Johnson spent the spring working together to try to bring an end to the war in Vietnam that everyone seemed to be protesting.

Our current US president graduated from the University of Pennsylvania that spring, then received a draft deferment. And our current pope was finishing his theology studies before his ordination to the priesthood in 1969.

Will 2018 unfold as dramatically as 1968 did? Will it prove to be another year of apparent chaos? Maybe. Only the good Lord knows. The good Lord Who saves us. By becoming one of us. Jesus.

One thing we know for sure: He lives, and He loves. He will love us through 2018, no matter what this year brings.

Moses and Us Seeing the Invisible

moses

Once every three years on Holy Family Sunday we read from the eleventh chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews. [Spanish.]

Now, the Bible contains many inspiring chapters.  To claim that any particular chapter qualifies as The Most Inspiring Chapter of the Holy Bible! Who could make such a judgment?  But Hebrews 11 will give any chapter a run for the money.  If you only intend to read one single chapter of the Bible between now and the end of 2017, and you decide to make it Hebrews 11–good choice.

We hear at Holy Mass how the paragraphs of Hebrews 11 begin. They begin with “By faith, So-and-so did such-and-such.”  By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to move to an unknown land.  By faith, Abraham received the power to generate offspring, even though he had passed the normal age, and had a sterile wife.  By faith, Abraham, when put to the test, offered up his son Isaac.

Now, Hebrews 11 recounts not just Abraham’s faith.  The chapter chronicles the faith of the successive generations of Israelites who awaited the fulfillment of God’s promises.  The chapter exhorts the Christian Church to unswerving faith.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, based practically his whole encyclical Lumen Fidei on Hebrews 11; he quotes the chapter thirteen times.  Like when he writes:

If we remove faith in God from our cities, mutual trust would be weakened.  We would remain united only by fear, and our stability would be threatened. In the Letter to the Hebrews we read that ‘God is not ashamed to be called their God…’ (Heb 11:16)… The intention is to say that God, by his concrete actions, makes a public avowal that he is present in our midst and that he desires to solidify every human relationship. (paragraph 55)

Anyway, one particular verse of Hebrews 11 struck me.  In the section of the chapter after the part about Abraham and his sons, St. Paul considers the faith of Moses.  We read:

Pope Paul VI 1975By faith, Moses left Egypt, not fearing Pharaoh’s fury.  For Moses persevered as if he could see the invisible God.

Moses led the Israelites out of slavery, marching towards the sea, with chariots in hot pursuit.  No earthly consideration could have made the situation hopeful.  Didn’t look good at all.  But Moses marched forward as if he could see the invisible God.

We see the baby Jesus, a baby, a boy.  A human being, like us.  But, by faith, we look at the infant in the manger as if we could see the invisible God.  The Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, the shepherds:  gazing at the baby, adoring Him, as if they could see the invisible God.

Nothing will evangelize like this.  The world needs the Good News of Christ.  And nothing will convince like the witness of people who speak and live as if we could see the invisible. Let me quote Pope Paul VI:

The world shows innumerable signs of denying God.  But, nevertheless, she searches for him in unexpected ways.  She painfully experiences the need for Him.  The world is calling for evangelizers to speak of a God whom they know and are familiar with, as if they could see the invisible. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 76)

For us, this requires discipline.  It requires constant engagement with Christ, through Scripture and the sacraments.  It requires renouncing the “concupiscence of our eyes,” which grasp like desperate babies for stimulation.

Moses did not lead the Israelites to the Promised Land by pulling out his smartphone all the time and checking it.  Moses could see the invisible because he had conquered the concupiscence of his eyes, by denying them the immediate satisfaction that they crave.

Let’s think of the long, slow nights which Mary and Joseph spent with the baby.  Hours of quiet breathing, little baby noises, in the pitch-black night.  Totally unexciting.  Except that they could see the invisible God.

That’s how we can learn to see the invisible, too.  By embracing quiet, and solitude—and not running away.  By becoming people who are not afraid to pray, to pray with reckless abandon to the unseen God. Utterly unseen—except, in Jesus Christ, we see Him, and we know Him.