Friday, April 15, 2011
One of our high school-ers was sharing how during a science class, when asked why a reaction had occurred during an experiment, a fellow student blurted out, "It's magic." I understand that even the teacher laughed. The same student suggested that this might be the theological or spiritual explanation of many of the miracles stories of sacred scripture. Perhaps even the bread and wine becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. As we reach the end of Lent, and prepare for Holy Week, I cannot help but wonder how many of the multitude of peoples who received ashes have made real progress during this Lenten season in moving from Sin and sinfulness, and moving towards a life of grace. And as I sat for First Communion pictures the other night, I realized how many parents I did not recognize. Sadly our religious practice can seek out a magical relationship with God and God's grace. In some of Pope Benedict's recent letters he outlines the importance of a lifestyle that is attentive to the need to move from Sin into grace. Benedict affirms that God's grace certainly allows us to strength to make change in our life, but we also have to put effort into conversion and discipleship. I love telling the story of the rather overweight man, who seemed to reside in the locker room, reading the local paper. I always imagined that he told people that he was going to the 'Y' but secretly wondered why he was not losing weight. Recently I have found myself thinking about the story of the rich man who approaches Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God. He offers of list of things that he does that are religious. When Jesus suggests that he sell his possessions and then to come back and follow him, he walks away sad because of his connection to his stuff. Perhaps throughout our history of God with us we have come to believe in magical solutions. So if I pray these prayers just right, I don't have to work at being kind or forgiving. As I have been re-reading a lot of Henri Nouwen these last few weeks, I am reminded of the importance of relationships in our faith walk. With Jesus of course, others around us, and righteousness and truth. I added the last two. I talk quite a bit about conversion and discipleship. But it's not magic. It is work and attention to what is happening around us. I am looking forward to this coming week. I am determined not to become angry when crowds come to the magical Easter show. I will raise them up to God with the bread and wine, and ask that through the Holy Spirit he change these gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ.