Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Broken Circuits or Just Bad Batteries?

When I went to Mountain Empire Community College to get my degree in Electrical Engineering Technology, there were many classes in which we had to build circuits to do certain things.  The instructor would stand up front, give us a list of things to accomplish, and we'd have the rest of the class period to build a circuit that would perform those functions with the required components.  One day one of the less popular guys in class could not get his circuit working.  He asked each of us to come look at it.  Everything looked right.  None of us could find the problem.  All the right parts, all the right wires, all the right hook ups.   Everything looked correct as far as we could tell.   The instructor came back in and he called him back.   Less than a second later the man had figured it out.  There was no power supply.  First step in the instructions.  None of us noticed because we just assumed it had been followed.  Boy did I feel stupid for not thinking of the most simple of things.

In today's readings, Elijah confronts the false priests of Baal in this amazing stand off.  They build two altars, one to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the other to Baal.  Put offerings on each and have a competition to figure out whose deity is the one true God.  The priests of Baal do things that look right.  They dance around, they call on their god in prayer, they mortify their bodies.  All the while Elijah teases them.  "Maybe he's in the bathroom, this god of yours."  "Maybe he is taking a nap, if you shout louder maybe he'll hear you."   Eventually their time runs out.  Elijah then has water poured on his altar to even make the point that in this impossible scenario, with the offering evening wet to the point of saturation, God will provide.  Then instead of trying to force God's hand, he simply says: "Let it be known this day that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things by your command."  God listened to Elijah and rained down fire upon the offering and consumed it and the people were converted.  

Notice that Elijah did everything God commanded.  He did it exactly as God had prescribed.  He didn't do it his own way.   The priests of Baal did what they thought they should do, but they didn't consult God in the process.  They danced, they sang, they chanted, they prophesied.  They had the circuit built but just like my odd friend in college, they forgot to tap into the power supply.  Jesus reminds us in the Gospel that the commandments he has given must be obeyed completely.  Not only are we to obey (tap into the circuit) but we are to teach others.  He has just given us the beatitudes as the extreme example of doing just that.  The law is not lax, it has not been done away with, it has become something that must be a matter of the heart.  

Detachment.   I talk a lot about that.  Maybe because it's so difficult for me to do.   That's what Jesus is calling us to, again today.   To begin this day doing things God's way.  To be able to honestly say "I have done all these things by your command."  As we journey through life we must become completely dependent upon God, detached from the world.   Our life is that circuit that must be built.   It will do no good to simply build it, and never tap into the power supply.   It just doesn't work.  It's not enough to be just a 'good person.'   We need to be on fire with the Spirit, moved by Him.  That's the only way that this meager offering of our self will ever be consumed by the fire from on high.  

When we come up to receive Eucharist at Mass we are saying, "Here I am Lord, an offering to you.  I offer you my life.  Everything that I am."    Oh, how unworthy a sacrifice I am.  I still offer it.   Then he says to me, "Take this and eat, this is my body."   There is the key.    The power supply.   The Eucharist comes into me, and all of a sudden the sacrifice is worthy for God.  It's not just me being offered up, it's me being offered in union with my Savior, the only worthy offering to God.  Mass isn't about me.  I don't go for the music, though I enjoy that often.  I don't go for the comfort of the chairs, or the workout I get from the Catholic calisthenics (up, down, kneel, up, kneel, up).  No, I go to offer worship to God.   Again, Mass is not about me.  It's about Him.  Yet, He in his infinite mercy and kindness gives me something in return.  He gives me the source and summit of our faith, the power supply to begin returning this horribly broken circuit into something that begins to resemble what He designed it to be, so that I might pray with the angels and the Saints:

Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.
You will show me the path to life,
fullness of joys in your presence,
the delights at your right hand forever.

His servant and yours, 

"He must increase, I must decrease."