Nain Dance?

When the Lord Jesus raised the young man in the little hamlet of Nain—when He raised this young man from the dead, it caused quite a stir. Understandably so. Doesn’t happen every day. I’ve celebrated a lot of funeral Masses myself, and I can tell you that I’ve never had one like that. Where the dead person got up and walked home.

So the event became the talk of the entire surrounding region. They heard about it in the Lord’s hometown of Nazareth, on the other side of the valley. They heard about it down south in Jerusalem. And John the Baptist, languishing in prison—even he heard about it.

What in the name of holy Moses is going on here? The carpenter is going from town to town, and now he has raised a young man from the dead!

We might think that people would respond to such news with joy. Certainly, many people did. “God has visited His people!” they shouted. And they danced for joy, maybe like Jacoby Jones in the endzone.

john_paul_ii_pencil_drawingBut not everyone reacted that way. Surprisingly enough. A lot of people who had known Jesus since He was a boy thought to themselves: “This man has gotten too big for his britches!” A lot of other preachers and religious charlatans gnashed their teeth with jealousy. And people who don’t like surprises—no matter how wonderful the surprise is—they did not like it.

In the beginning, the Lord had said to His people: Two paths stand before you. One leads to life, one to death. Choose life, then! said the Lord. Before many of you young uns were even born, Bl. Pope John Paul II said to us and to the world, The Gospel of Christ is the Gospel of Life!

Everyone must face the choice. Do I choose in favor of Jesus Christ, Who came to give life? Or do I choose in favor of breaking life down? Hurting myself, hurting others. Do I have faith that life is a gift that leads to eternal happiness? Or do I doubt the power of God?

We read that, when they saw Christ raise the dead man, “fear seized them all.”

If it isn’t scary–if it isn’t bigger than me, and awesome, truly awesome—if I don’t see that it demands my all, my love, my self-sacrifice—if it isn’t wonderfully scary, then it isn’t life. It isn’t the power of God. Fear seized them all because they realized: This life thing is bigger than I ever thought it was. God is real. And that is scary.

To believe in the life-giving power of the crucified Christ is not easy. It was much easier for people to scoff and try to dismiss it. Much easier to stick with smaller potatoes, like keeping my belly full and looking cool to my friends.

But let’s make a choice to step out into the scary territory of true life. Let’s follow the path of obeying God, following Christ, choosing love, kindness, and truth. God has visited His people. And there’s an endzone we can get to, where we will dance for joy forever.

It’s not Just a Religion, It’s an Adventure

…Let me say this, my blizzard-jockey friends: When the Washington springtime comes this year, it will be the sweetest ever…

Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him.

Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:8-11)

“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.”

These were St. Peter’s words when he recognized the awesome holiness of Christ. Peter was afraid. He knew he was not worthy to be in the presence of God. After all, he was a rough and humble working man.

Continue reading “It’s not Just a Religion, It’s an Adventure”

The Kind Beginning of the Culture of Life

The Lord Jesus worked His first miracle in Cana, a small town in Galilee, near Nazareth.

Two months ago, I was in the town of Cana. All the couples in our pilgrim group renewed their wedding vows in the church built on the spot where the Lord turned water into wine.

Church of the Miracle at Cana

Then we went on to the Sea of Galilee, where we spent the day. In the evening, we got on the bus to head back to Nazareth, where we were staying. On the way, the perfect thing happened.

We had to pass through Cana on the way back. The region of Galilee is rural countryside. There are not a lot of roads, and the roads are narrow. The only way from the Sea of Galilee to Nazareth is through Cana.

So we drove back into Cana, and, like I said, the perfect thing happened: We got stuck in a traffic jam.

It took us 40 minutes to get through two traffic lights. There were just too many cars and not enough road. Rush hour in Cana of Galilee.

This was the perfect thing to happen. The miracles of Christ are things that really took place, in this very world of ours, where traffic also occurs. The world where Jesus worked miracles, and the world where you and I get stuck in traffic: It is the same world.

Alveda King

In the town where we sat at a red light for half an hour, the God-man went to a wedding of poor people.

The family had done everything within their means to provide for their guests. Now they were confronted with an embarrassing situation.

What Christ did for them is very revealing.

Let us first take note of what He did not do. He did not say, “It’s just as well the wine ran out, because these people have already had more than enough fun.”

No. He did not frown. He smiled. He turned water for ritual purification into an enormous amount of choice table wine. The joy and revelry did not end. The Son of God kept it going.

The fact that our Lord did this is revealing for two reasons. First: It reveals the kind of human heart He has. His Heart is generous. He does not measure His kindness. He does not give with one hand and take with the other. He just loves.

Bl. Columba Marmion, O.S.B.

The second thing His action reveals is even more profound. The loving kindness of Christ the man reveals to us the infinite divine love of Christ our God.

We can neither perceive nor imagine the love of God. God’s qualities are altogether beyond the capacities of our little minds. But the human love of Christ give us a glimpse of the ineffable divine love. One of the saints put it like this:

Nothing so much attracts our poor hearts as to contemplate Jesus Christ, true God as well as true man, translating the eternal goodness into human deeds.

In Christ, the unknowable eternal goodness turned water into wine for a poor family in the little town where we sat in traffic. We cannot know God by ourselves, dear brothers and sisters. But Jesus reveals Him. And we see the sweet truth: God is kind.

Now, it is no accident that this revelation took place at a wedding.

The Lord Jesus was not destined to marry on earth. He came to die for the sins of all the children of Adam and Eve.

But He worked His first miracle at a wedding to show us this: God loves marriage and child-bearing. Yes, when we are born, we are born sinners. But it is still a good thing to be born. The human race is meant to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth. Christ came to save everyone ever born.

The miracle at Cana, then, was the beginning of what we call the “Culture of Life.” Christ showed us that day: God wants babies to be born.

This is what the March for Life is about. It is a continuation of the wedding at Cana.

Speaking of births, yesterday would have been Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 81st birthday. Dr. King has a niece named Alveda. She recently wrote the following message to us:

I work in the civil rights movement of our century — the right of every one of every race to live.

I am asking you to join me. Let me tell you why. Abortion and racism are evil twins, born of the same lie…

Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human…So it is with abortion.

Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit…So it is with abortion.

Racism is a way to gain economic advantage at the expense of others. Slavery and plantations may be gone, but racism still allows us to regard those who may keep us from financial gain as less than equals. So it is with abortion.

Listen: Dr. King was killed before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal on January 22, 1973. But you know that if he were still alive, he would be marching on Friday.

If any of us think that the pro-life cause is not our problem, not our fight to fight, we need to think again.

Dr. King would be yelling at us right now. He yelled a lot louder in the pulpit than I ever do.

He would yell, “Get yourself up! Stand up for what you know is right! Every little baby in the womb—every black one, every white, yellow, or red one—every last one has the right to be born!”