Monday, October 12, 2015

The Heavens Proclaim the Glory of God

My wife and I have made it a habit lately to jog in the late evenings after all of our obligations and such begin to wind down.  Tonight as I meditate on the readings for tomorrow's Mass, it reminds me of the jog/walk we just completed.   I was in just too much pain to run tonight, so I ended up walking most of the time we were out there. It helped me though to think quite a bit about many of the things I've been mulling over, and more especially to spend some time just walking along talking to my sacramental partner.

Tomorrow's readings are some of my favorites in scripture.  As we walked along tonight, a strong wind kept blowing through the trees.  The sky was cloudy and dark, almost ominous.  Occasionally we would hear the breaking of twig or rustling of a leaf as some woodland creature ran off in fright to our presence.   The river under the bridge reflected back the street lights in the distance, it's ripples creating a movement in time where there really was none.  The changing colors of the autumn in their many shades of monochrome night created a blanket of waving patterns, all shifting away anytime the eye tried to focus on them. The tall, uncut grass of the gentle sloping hill flowed back and forth like an ocean of it's own accord.

All of it called out to one simple truth, one fact that my mind has never been able to understand why others do not come to this conclusion as well, to the existence of God.  The first reading tells us that "Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made."  God created us in his image.  He gave us the gift of our senses, combined with our faculties, that give us such a powerful bond with all of creation.  We can see the beauty of all it's many faceted creatures.  Smell the scents and odors of our vastly complex universe.  Reason and grapple with concepts and words to try and express all of this in some way that is beyond a mere simple thought.

Just walking with my wife, though filled with pain and limping, I am still struck by just how fortunate I am to be gifted with someone as beautiful, intelligent, and caring as her.  Just looking at our lives, the circumstances that led us to become the people we are, the events that brought me to
move 600 miles away from the town where I had always been, and to have my life filled with these 5 ladies.... all of it tells me that there are no coincidences.  There is something more than us, something greater than us, a designer, a creator.

When I was in my teens I attended Magnet school at a local college to study some advanced mathematics and computer science skills.  While we were there we studied Chaos theory.  Many of you will remember Malcom from Jurassic Park, the slightly nerdy and awkward genius who talked about a 'butterfly' flapping it's wings in one part of the world, creates a monsoon in another.  That was the kind of math we were studying.   The one thing I learnt that summer was that even in things that seemed to be completely random, there were found mathematical patterns.  That everything in the universe was ordered, even 'random' chance itself.   The heavens themselves proclaim the glory of God! 

That brings us to the Gospel.   Here we see Jesus being condemned again by a Pharisee for not washing himself ritually before sitting down to a meal.  They felt there was an order that must be done before he could eat. Jesus reminded them that God made everything!  There was no need for ritual cleansing because he was already pure.  Then challenged them to clean themselves, spiritually.  Both inside and out.  We have many people out there today who teach a prosperity gospel, a gospel of health, a bed of roses so to speak.  They claim that if you 'speak it,' God must do it!  As if God were some ATM that you could control.  Then when suffering comes that way, they proclaim that you didn't do it right.  Your faith must be weak, or you must not really believe.  It can be shattering to those who believe this way to actually see someone they love suffering from some disease, or they themselves begin to go through a Dark Night of the Soul. 

Jesus reminded us that ritual is meaningless unless the inside of the soul is cleansed.  He challenges them to give alms to reverse the condition of their heart.  He told them already of their problem, they were filled with plunder and evil.   They were greedy, they wanted more.  He told them to give away to those who need, and it would fix them.   I think that's the message he has for us, all of us today.  Suffering is hard to see, especially if the inside of our heart is attached to things of this world.  It's only through detachment that we can begin to be free, to cling to the only attachment that matters, that is God himself.  Once we place him first and foremost things begin to fall into place.  It doesn't mean a bed of roses.  It doesn't mean that we'll be rich.  It doesn't mean that our relationships will not require a lot of work or effort.  It doesn't mean that some people aren't going to pass away from a disease or suffer a long time with one.  What it does mean is that we can look to God for our comfort during those times, and look out into creation itself when we struggle with doubt to find glimpses of Him shining back towards us.

In Christ,
Brian