Fleshy Sunday Readings

I think we can find a particularly interesting paradox in the words of Christ which we hear at Holy Mass on Sunday. Hopefully we can receive the paradox as an invitation.

“This saying is hard,” they murmured. “Who can accept it?”

Which saying? The one we heard last Sunday. “My flesh is true food and my blood true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. The one who feeds on Me will have life because of me.”

Christ, the man, flesh and blood, born of the womb of Mary. He possesses divine life, eternally flowing into Him from the Father. Infinite life. The Holy Spirit, Who has breathed life into everything that lives. This particular Galilean fellow, made of bones and cells and stuff, just like us. He gives His body and blood as the gift of divine life for us. The Holy Spirit gives life–through the flesh and blood of Christ.

Earth Wind and FireOk: A hard saying, which demands faith in the Incarnation and the Blessed Sacrament of the altar, the Holy Eucharist. He anticipated that His words would shock some of us into disbelief.

A few weeks ago, an aspiring Catholic came to see me to discuss the possibility of coming into full communion with the Church. He has attended Mass with his dear Catholic wife every Sunday for 35 years. But this man’s Presbyterian sensibilities couldn’t quite feature the idea that God would have us eat somebody’s body and drink his blood.

The saying about the Body of the Galilean rabbi isn’t the only hard one involving flesh and blood in this Sunday’s readings. Anybody catch St. Paul quoting Christ quoting Genesis? “A man shall join with his wife and become one flesh.”

The fact that sex, marriage, procreation, and permanence go together, inseparably–like root beer and foam go together, or chips and salsa, or music and dancing–these are flesh-and-blood facts of life, brought to us by God Himself. Maybe the idea that we all come into the world in this somewhat messy way–maybe it strikes us as a little odd, if we think about it too meticulously. But God has His beautiful reasons.

In a similar way, “This is My Body,” and “This is My Blood,” come as simple Christian facts of life. Christ Himself said these words. It’s not as if Catholic priests made the whole thing up. We didn’t make up that marriage is the permanent bond of man and woman, any more than we made up that the Holy Mass gives us Christ’s true flesh. We Catholics just take the Lord at His word. We don’t see it as our job to “engineer” the meaning of those words. We simply believe them, holding back no part of our minds from our unequivocal belief. We know that, if we believe, then maybe we can begin to understand. But if we don’t totally believe, we know we will never understand at all.

priest_jesus_massAnyway: taken all together, the facts of life, given by God in today’s readings: fleshy. Altogether fleshy. Husband and wife: one, inseparable flesh. Holy Communion: Christ’s flesh and blood to eat and drink. Almighty God does not despise human flesh. To the contrary, He has embraced it more intimately than we can conceive.

Hence, the paradox: In the same breath with which the Lord lays down these stunning affirmations of intense fleshiness, He also says, “it is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words I speak to you are spirit and life.”

The flesh has life. The flesh even has life to give. But the flesh itself is not ‘life.’ God wills to give us life in these muscles and bones of ours. He wills that we receive our lives through our parents’ flesh and bones. He wills that we receive eternal life through His incarnate Son’s living flesh.

But our life is not just breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper, tv, and bed. Our life is not even just earth, wind, and fire.

Our life is God. God is immeasurably greater than all flesh and blood. Immeasurably greater even than Earth, Wind, and Fire were, when they jammed “September,” in their prime.

God is so pure and spiritual that we cannot begin to imagine, cannot begin to conceive. He is the Beauty of everything beautiful, the Truth of everything true. He is our goal. God, purely God, awesomely, mysteriously God.

Everything Christ ever said has one fundamental meaning for us: that we would never shoot for anything less than God Himself.

So: we have flesh and blood, which came from our parents’ flesh and blood, nourished with divine life by Christ’s flesh and blood. And, in this flesh and blood, we strive for God.

Rolling into Roanoke on John 6

The ancient Israelites grumbled in the desert. The heat got to them. And thirst. And hunger. They preferred slavery in Egypt. They did not like the trial of endurance on which Moses had led them.

“Promised Land? Sure. But we don’t see it. We see nothing but parched desert sand.” So the Lord worked his ancient prodigies to help them. Water from the rock, manna from heaven. Even delicious quail.

quail-dinnerAnyone ever enjoyed quail? I only had the opportunity once. Not a lot of meat on the bone, so to speak. But very flavorful.

Anyway, the crowds followed Christ after He miraculously fed 5,000 men and their families, with five loaves and two fish, as we heard at Mass last week. These people who followed Jesus: they had the ancient miracles on their minds.

Moses gave the people bread from heaven. When that happened, the grumblers started to believe–the complaining liberated slaves. They saw the sign from heaven, and they believed. On the shores of the Sea of Galilee, Lord Jesus had accomplished a similar great miracle. Thousands fed to satisfaction. Seemed like the same ancient power had come to the Israelites’ aid again, like in the desert. Could the Nazarene carpenter be the new Moses? A great prophet? A liberator?

Christ knew their thoughts. He knew the crowd that followed Him liked the idea of free food. But He wanted to lift them up from their baser motives and purfity their intentions. He knew that, deep down, they sought God.

“What can we do to accomplish God’s works?” they asked. They liked to fill their hungry bellies, but they liked the idea of serving God more. Hopefully that describes us, too. Who doesn’t like to eat? But obeying God aways comes first.

What do we do to do work of God? Lord Jesus says, “Believe.” Our first act of obedience; our first act of service to God: believing. Marching hungry and thirsty through the desert might strike us as challenging. But believing, through thick and thin, requires even more. Believing in God and believing in the Christ that God has sent. Focusing our interior eyes on Jesus Christ, on His Mystery, which transcends everything we think we know–seeing everything else by the light of Christ–that gets every bit as hard as slogging through a desert sometimes.

So He works for us an even greater sign than His ancient feeding of the 5,000. He gives us His Body and Blood to eat and drink. He gives us Himself, when we come together and celebrate Holy Mass. The Bread of Life, come down from heaven to give life to the world.

taubman museum in roanoke[Material of local interest follows…]

I take it as a great privilege and a sacred responsibility to have been made the pastor here [at St. Andrew’s in Roanoke.] I know that Fr. Matt feels the same way about being parochial vicar. We have the honor of celebrating Mass for you. We come together; we believe. And the Lord feeds us and refreshes us. With Himself. Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity. What kind of priest am I? The kind who can’t belive that I get to say the words of consecration and bring the Incarnate Word of God into the world, as our food.

I’ve been a priest for twelve years. For the past four, I was the pastor in Rocky Mount and Martinsville. For the past two years, I also cared for the school here as the chaplain.

Raise your hand if you already know Fr. Matt Kiehl from his Masses this past month… Fr. Matt will take over as chaplain at Roanoke Catholic.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of St. Gerard’s parish… Down Orange Ave. Fr. Matt and I together have the responsibility for these two parishes, St. Andrews and St. Gerard. Seven Masses, each weekend, between us. In these two beautiful churches, full of inspiring people. It’s not a “parish cluster,” in case you were wondering. Not a parish cluster. It’s just that the two parishes have the same pastor and the same parochial vicar.

We will have years to get to know each other. Roanoke’s as close to heaven as you can get on this earth, so I’m fixing to stay here as long as I can. I’m looking forward very much to the years we will have together. These pastoral assignments start kind of like arranged marriages in rural India. I promise to do my best to be a good husband.

For right now, let’s respond to Christ’s words to us with the faith He asks for. Let’s declare, by our devotion, that we believe, and that we want to receive the Bread from heaven always. He will feed us with this Bread as we make our pilgrim way. He will refresh us in our thirstiest moments.

The Promised Land to which we journey–it is real. Roanoke seems altogether wonderful to me, but the Promised Land–the land of true justice, of peace, of genuine fulfillment and happiness–the Promised Land of light without darkness, where death no longer has its sting, where love doesn’t end–the Promised Land which we read about at the very end of the Bible–it exists. It’s real.

The Lord feeds us with His own Body. We unworthy priests bring the Bread from heaven to earth, so that we can eat and drink, and restore our strength as we make our way. I’m glad that we will be making our way together.

Signs of Divine Power on US 220

[Homily of your unworthy servant, saying goodbye to my beloved parishes of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Joseph]

If you have a sharp memory, you may recall that our three-year cycle for Sunday gospel readings has one special late-summertime twist.

The years when we read from St. Mark’s gospel at Sunday Mass are called Year… B. St. Mark had a unique virtue in his gospel writing, namely brevity. His gospel doesn’t quite fill a whole year’s worth of Sundays.

So, during Year B, from late July to the end of August, we take a detour from Mark to John. We read one of the longer chapters of the New Testament. The chapter about the Bread of Life, come down from heaven; about ‘he who eats My flesh and drinks My blood will live forever;’ the chapter that concludes with St. Peter humbly declaring to Christ, “Leave You, Lord? To whom shall we go?”

Christ in Capernaum
Christ in Capernaum
Right. John 6. It all starts with the Feeding of the 5,000. Then the chapter continues for four more Sunday Masses

It’s my favorite interlude in the three-year cycle of readings. It presents the wonderful opportunity to reflect on the most-famous miracle of Christ, and then segue into His Presence with us in the Holy Mass. These five weeks stand wide open, like an invitation from the Lord to preach a little series of homilies. Today would be the day to start the series. Except…

My best friend in high-school and I competed with each other in many things. Grades. Sports. But the thing we competed about most was: which of us loved his mother more. Maybe that sounds totally cheesy, but it’s true. Then, when we were 22, Eric lost his mother to cancer.

Brave, eloquent man that he is, he got up to speak at her funeral. The scene seared itself into my memory forever: The picture of him standing there by himself in the front of the dingy synagogue. The sound of his strong voice, valiantly mastering itself. He said, “Anyone who knows me knows that for me to be standing here like this… is destroying me.”

That was a lot worse than a transfer from one parish to another, to be sure. But standing here, having to say goodbye… If you know me, you know that this is kinda destroying me.

We read in the Holy Gospels how the Lord Jesus promised that miraculous signs would accompany the ministry of the Apostles. The Apostles then proceeded to work miracles, as we read in the New Testament.

Recently I had an argument with a brother Christian about the continuation of the apostolic ministry in the Church. The Apostles, of course, chose successors for themselves, to carry on their mission. An unbroken succession extends from St. Peter and the original Apostles to the pope and bishops of today.

This is a hard fact to argue with. But my Protestant friend disputed the legitimacy of what we Catholics call the ‘apostolic succession’ on these grounds: I don’t see the miracles. He said that he doesn’t see the pope and bishops accomplishing miraculous healings, or handling snakes, or drinking poison and not dying.

silver roanoke starNow, if he checked the list of promised signs in the New Testament, he might find that the biggest one is: speaking in all the tongues of the earth. And the Catholic Church, frumpy as She may be, does have the only claim, among all human institutions, to that. Does anyone speak all the languages of the earth? Yes, the Catholic Church does. No one else can say that.

But let’s leave that aside. Let’s stay more local.

What I really wanted to say to my friend is: You don’t see miraculous signs in the Church? Well, then, you don’t see what I see, man. You haven’t had the privileged point-of-view that I have had these past four years.

The miraculous sign of people, in an age of isolation, coming together. The miraculous sign of brother- and sister-Christians, in an age of selfishness, thinking of others first and making real sacrifices for them. The miraculous sign of the up-and-coming generation, in an age of relativism and self-indulgence, striving to find God’s truth and live by it.

The miraculous sign of good, competent, talented people, putting up with a feckless dweeb of a pastor, co-operating with him in spite of how impossible he is. And making beautiful things happen under this roof, week in and week out, in spite of the cluelessness of the guy in charge.

These are signs of divine power. You, my dear faithful people, have been working them for as long as I have known you. No doubt you will continue to work them, for the glory of God.

I’ll shut up now. If any good has come from my babblings up here, may the glory be God’s. I came here because Jesus Christ, speaking through Bishop, sent me here. And now the Lord, speaking through Bishop, is sending me to Roanoke. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

To Jesus Christ, Son of God and son of Mary, the divine Lamb, the Crucified, the Victor over death, the fountainhead of life and love, the Alpha, the Omega, the Name above every other name, the King of kings and Lord of lords; our brother, our Redeemer; the Heart of our hearts: to Him be glory and praise, in the Church on earth and in heaven, now and forever.

Roanoke Catholic School 125th Anniversary Homily

Roanoke Catholic School

Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. (John 6:54)

I am not especially good at anything in particular. I do very much enjoy running.

My dear fifth- and sixth graders, I think I was your age when I discovered that I love running. My father ran a 10K, and there was a “Fun Run” for the kids. About a mile or so. I got it into my head that I would run the Fun Run. I remember feeling like I was going to vomit when it was over, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Now, at such a ripe young age of ten, the idea of trying to run a mile in less than five minutes never even entered my wee mind. It was when I was your age, dear eighth graders, that I first met the most demanding man I have ever known in my life. My high-school track coach.

The immortal Coach Oliver 'Skip' Grant
The immortal Coach Oliver ‘Skip’ Grant
The feeling that I was about to vomit …it happened again. A lot. Through many merciless workouts presided-over by Coach Grant.

Then, when I was your age, dear 10th graders, all the stars aligned. It was a crisp spring afternoon. I never owned a pair of racing spikes, but that day one of the seniors on the team had a new pair, so he lent me his old ones. Our meet was held at the school with the finest track in the conference. And I managed to run a mile in 4:56. I guess I have been basking in the quiet glory of that moment ever since.

My point is: I started in one place, a place where the idea of running a sub-five-minute mile didn’t even exist. Then Coach Grant kicked the butts of all his runners into the kind of shape that none of us had ever imagined we could be in. A whole new kind of accomplishment lay within my grasp. I had a new horizon. Thanks to workouts that seemed designed to kill, I managed to reach the goal.

Seems to me that this is what “education” is. We start in one place, where the world is hemmed-in and small, even though we might not even realize it. Then someone generous gives us exercises to do, which we do not want to do.

But, by doing them anyway, we wake up one day, and the world is bigger, wider, brighter, and more interesting. Not only that. Now, thanks to all the toilsome work I have done under the guidance of someone who wants to see me succeed, I actually have the mental and psychological strength to accomplish something beautiful and impressive in this grand world.

For 125 years, right here on this lovely little plateau, teachers have been giving homework. For 125 years, students have been saying to themselves, “I really do not feel like doing all this homework.” For 125 years, parents of Roanoke Catholic students have been hollering in the house, “Have you done your homework yet?” And for 125 years, students here have been getting smarter, and more creative, and more interesting, and more capable.

But that is not all. Sub-five-minute miles come and go. Truth is, all our successes in this world come and go. Smarter and more creative and more capable—all of these can be for the good, but they can also be for the bad.

There is yet another horizon.

little last supperLike I said, when I was 10, I didn’t even know what running a sub-five-minute mile meant. When I was 15, I ran one. When you’re 14, it feels like endless studying and tons of homework. When you’re 23, you realize it means that now you have some skills that you can use to make the world better. The whole time, while you’re a pilgrim on earth, you wonder, What’s the meaning of life? And Jesus Christ answers: Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood will live forever.

There is yet another horizon of ‘education.’ And there is only one coach, only one teacher who can lead us to it, help us reach it, carry us there: Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus, Who says, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice. Who says: Give, and more will be given to you. Who says: Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me. Who says: Repent of your sins, and believe.

This school rightfully takes pride in all of our success as an educational institution. We commit ourselves to upholding the high standards that have been set by all the Roanoke-Catholic students and teachers and parents and coaches and administrators and staff that have gone before us. This is a celebration of the horizons of success that have opened up in this world for all the people who have come together here to form this institution.

But, above all, we praise and bless and adore our Father in heaven, Who has made us His children in Christ. Roanoke Catholic School has a lot of impressive ambitions. But the most important of them all is: We want to give glory to our heavenly Father.

We say we believe that Christ feeds us with His very own Body and Blood from the altar. That’s the faith of the Catholic Church; that’s the faith of Roanoke Catholic School. The world might think we’re crazy for believing in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but we don’t care. We believe it anyway.

This isn’t just an excellent school with an illustrious 125-year history. This isn’t just a place of academic and extra-curricular success. This is a place where we meet Christ, the Son of God. This is a place where we learn from Him as His disciples, where we seek His mercy, and where we grow strong in spirit by feeding on His Body and Blood. We have a lot of grand horizons. But the most important one is: Eternal life with God.

Last Day

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day. (John 6:40)

He will raise us on the last day. A last day will come.

Not just a last day of school, or a last day of work, or a last day of the Masters.

There will come a day when we will truthfully say, “No more ‘unscripted’ visits to New Hampshire by aspiring presidential candidates. No more having to charge my cellphone. No more mortgage payments. Todo finito–all these worldly cares.”

ezekiel bonesI guess this is one of those fundamental convictions about reality which separate the believer from the pagan. That a Last Day will come. Justice will be done. Redemption will be won for the servants of Eternal Love.

But, as the Fathers of Vatican II put it in Gaudium et Spes, this cognizance we have of the inevitable Last Day—which cognizance makes all these other days look different, puts them in a different light—this cognizance of ours does not make us despise these current days. It actually makes us care about them all the more.

After all, the Last Day could be today. Tomorrow is the 451st anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth, not to mention the day when we will celebrate the 125th anniversary of Roanoke Catholic School. But maybe we’ll never make it to tomorrow. Maybe the Lord will demand our lives from us this very night.

Will I face Him having been fair to all the people I have a duty to be fair to? Will I face Him having cared for people who bear the oppressor’s rod and suffer the whips and scorns of outrageous fortune? Will I face Him, and find mercy for my sins, because I have been merciful to other people myself?

Pagans don’t like to think about such things, I don’t believe. But: attending Mass, when we really think about it, requires us to examine ourselves like this every time. At Mass: here we are, in our bodies, the very bodies which will rise on the Last Day. And here He is, Christ our Lord, in the Blessed Sacrament. If this isn’t a dressed rehearsal for Judgment Day, I don’t know what is.

Perfect love casts out fear. We have to work out our salvation in fear and trembling, like holy St. Paul did. But when we are used to meeting Christ in the flesh, which we do whenever we go to Mass, we need not fear the Last Day. It won’t be any more terrifying than a Mass at which we could see everything—see everything that we now believe in, without seeing.

Four Feeding 5,000s

Your unworthy servant at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves on the Sea of Galilee
Your unworthy servant at the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves on the Sea of Galilee (back in ’08)

…Speaking of the idiosyncratic ancient manuscripts that make up our beloved Bible…

Reading St. John’s account of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000, like we do at Holy Mass today, gives us particular satisfaction.

All four holy gospels recount this miracle, and only this one. Yes, all four gospels tell us about Jesus healing blind people. But in each instance, it’s different blind people. And, yes, of course all four gospels tell us that Jesus rose from the dead. But they recount different appearances of Christ after He rose.

So the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 binds the four gospels together. This miracle is like a strand of golden twine that ties the four books into a single bundle. Must be uniquely important, then, this miracle.

God fed the wandering Israelites with manna from heaven, as Moses led them through the desert to the Promised Land. And, of course, God continues to feed us wanderers with the Bread of sincerity and truth, which we receive from the holy altar of Christ’s sacrifice.

So maybe we can say: The miraculous feeding of the 5,000 offers us the best-possible image of God providing for His beloved people. The moment gives us the singularly vivid picture of Divine Providence. If we can imagine and meditate on the miraculous feeding, then we can begin to grasp how we fit as individuals into the grand divine design.

In his account, St. John tells us what time of year it was. Passover was near. Early spring.

The grand divine design involves our having a springtime picnic together, a picnic that will last forever. He provides the food.

How the Lord Gives us His Flesh to Eat

“How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”

They asked this perfectly reasonable question after the Lord Jesus had said, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

Christ in Capernaum
Christ in Capernaum

He will give His flesh that the world may have life, as opposed to death. Without this gift–the Body of Christ–the world languishes in death.

Indeed, taking a sober look around us, we see that death reigns as the inevitable conclusion of all our labors.

We stave off death for a while, by eating plenty of salads and sandwiches and bowls of cereal, etc., and keeping ourselves hydrated. But we can keep death at bay for only so long.

So the Messiah, the Savior, possesses flesh that gives life beyond the grave. The Christ of God gives life. He conquers death in His Body—not just for His own sake, but for all mankind. He gives all mankind His life-saving flesh.

But: How? Good question.

Continue reading “How the Lord Gives us His Flesh to Eat”

Dead Ancestors & the Bread of Life

“Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died.” (John 6:49)

What a morbid thing to say!

The ancestors, our ancestors, the original pilgrims seeking the Promised Land, freed from slavery, bearing the Commandments in the Ark. The Almighty showed His love and providence not only by dividing the Red Sea for them, but also by feeding them Himself, directly from heaven.

Alas, poor YorickWe have no identity; we have no holy Scriptures; we would have had no ancient Temple and no Holy of Holies in it—were it not for the venerable ancestors, who walked alongside Moses, arrayed as the twelve tribes of Israel.

But they died.

What a cynical thing to say!

Worms slither and cavort along the creases of their rotting bones. Their tibias and fibias serve as rollercoasters and waterslides for the earthworms.

How lovely!

How could our Lord Jesus Christ speak so coarsely? “They died.” The original Chosen People, who sang to the Lord as He covered Himself in glory, with Miriam dancing, tambourine in hand. “They died.” They ate manna in the desert. But then what happened? They died.

“I am the bread of life,” saith the Lord.

Do we go too far to say that the Mass is a matter of life and death?

billie-jean-jacksonLet’s consider some of the great exploits of the 20th century. Einstein discovered the Theory of Relativity. But what happened to him? He _____. The Wright brothers gave us the airplane; Henry Ford mass-produced the automobile; Steve Jobs gave us Apple Computer, Inc. But, wouldn’t you know it! They all _____. Josef Stalin took over half of Europe, but… Neil Armstrong walked on the moon! Wow! Then… Michael Jackson went mult-multi-platinum and then ______.

Hard. It’s a hard business. People live through beautiful springs and smell the roses in the garden and eat lots of delicious omelets and fruits and berries and such things, but, before you know it,…

My point is: the Mass is a matter of life and death. The Bread of Life lives, never to die more. The Father draws us to Him, so that we might truly live.

The Kind Will of the Father

This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life. (John 6:40)

The Father wills our salvation, our eternal life. The Father has planned that our difficulties, struggles, and even our inevitable death—all of it leads to a goal, the goal, the most unimaginably wonderful outcome.

The Son has passed through to eternal life. God has taken us to Himself, in the unique Person of Christ, and He has brought it all to fulfillment already, the consummation of our human life in eternal glory.

resurrectionOur Scriptures bear symphonic testimony to this. And the fearless death of so many Apostles and martyrs—not to mention the self-sacrificing lives of so many saints—these witnesses put the whole business into stark contrast: Either everything Jesus said is true, or all these people have been insane.

We have a beautiful-enough life on earth now. But we can see clearly that nothing about it is permanent. April 2014 offered us a lot. But now it is gone, never to return. California Chrome won the race on Saturday. But next year somebody else will. And even Google Chrome will someday fade into memory, and then be forgotten altogether.

But the Holy Spirit of Christ can attune our minds, our hearts, our spirits, to the eternal, unmoved, unchanging divinity that makes light shine and music harmonize. The Holy Spirit makes us friends with the Father Who wills that we, too, pass over, like Christ, to eternal life.

Maybe it seems like a wheeling merry-go-round—this pilgrim life we live now—or maybe like static on a broken t.v., or like a gondola ride, or like twelve years of slavery, or like a 30-day juice fast that never results in adequate weight loss. Whatever it seems like, it ain’t eternal. It will end. It is a movement, an episode, a road trip, a canto, a song.

And Jesus has taught us that the kind Father—the Singer—He wills that we still stand, alive, with ears and bright eyes wide open, when this song ends, and the Singer Himself becomes the everlasting song.

Bigger than Death

lio grave

Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died. (John 6:49)

Seems a little rough to have so many explosions in the news in one week. We pray; we pray.

Better to pray and read the Word of God than to watch too much t.v. or spend too much time on the internet. Better to set a specific amount of time per day for “keeping up with the news,” and stick faithfully to that allotted amount of time as a maximum.

I mean, not to be morbid, but…

We pray. Of course, we pray for the repose of all the souls of the dead. For healing for all the sick and wounded in this world. For consolation for all the grieving and broken-hearted…

speed bump reaperThe fact is, though: the world is literally full of dead people. In every city or town there are numerous fields full of people’s moldering bones.

Why fret this week more than any other that, “we live in a violent world?”

Damn straight this world is violent: No one survives. Everyone winds up dead. Life on earth is fatal 100% of the time.

If I don’t die in an explosion, does that mean I am going to live forever?

Um, no. If I don’t die suddenly today, I will still be dead relatively soon anyway.

The Ethiopian asked Philip, regarding the Holy Scriptures:

About whom is this written? (Acts 8:34)

Good question, brother!

Who is the drama of salvation about? Who is the Bible about? Who is the life of Jesus about? Who lives the mysteries of quiet, humble, submissive death and eternal life in glory? Who has been made—not just for a short, frustrating, and fragile life punctuated by sessions on the couch—but for a noble, heroic life that looks the Grim Reaper squarely in the face and says, ‘Bring it on, little boy! I’m a child of God Almighty, and you are nothing but a little gnat in my face!’ Who was made to say this?

We were. Us. The Bible is about us. Christ lived for us. Heaven is for us.

Yes, the devil will have his day. May God have mercy and help us. May God comfort us and give us fortitude.

But, after all: Our ancestors have lived through tumultuous wars with explosions left and right every day. Our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world have to live that way now. Death comes. One way or the other, it comes.

But we are so much bigger than death. May God help us to see just how much bigger than death we really are.