Sunday, April 2, 2017

Do it again daddy!

When I was four or five my father was driving us down the driveway in the winter towards our small home.  The snow was compacted and had formed a thin sheet of us under the fluffy blanket on top.  As we started down the step frozen slide towards the house the truck began to slide like a polished car hood on the surface of a sledding hill.  Out of control and careening my father was panicked and we just missed the front of the house coming to a stop shortly past where the rest of the additions would be added years later.  As an adult my father was concerned, was I OK?  Did that scare me in some way?  I burst out in excitement "Do it again daddy! Do it again!"

One of the joys of being a Christian comes from the radical gratitude that we can enjoy when we see the world from the eyes of a child.   Do it again daddy should be our response to every sunrise, flower, and rainstorm that comes through.  We often want to control that world.   Choosing what days are good, and which ones are bad... when all are a gift... all good things come from God.   He doesn't will bad.  He doesn't will cancer or death.  He doesn't will rape or genocide... He wills what is good for us.. love.. hope... joy.  Permissive will versus perfect will.  

That in and of itself reminds me of a quote from Saint Francis, which I will paraphrase, though I hope to find his actual words and link them later.   Essentially Saint Francis said if all things good come from God... love, hope, joy, art, creativity... then the only thing that is truly our own... the only thing we can "own".... is that which is not good.  Those things we allow in our lives that aren't from God are truly our own choices... hatred, racism, hedonism, anger, lust... all these our own... We are only free when we can turn from those things and instead join ourselves to the perfect will of God... which is found in charity.  Charity.. that perfection of love that comes from being completely unselfish.. doing things not for what we get out of them.. not even for the reward of feeling good about ourselves.. but only because it is the right thing to do.

Today's readings are about dry bones coming to life.  Ezekiel sees God through the Holy Spirit taking the bones of the dead nation of Israel and rebuilding them... sinew by sinew.. muscle by muscle.. cell by cell.  That's the offer God has for us today as well.  Just like Lazarus in the tomb we are decaying.   Martha in her practicality fears the stench that will be present when they roll the stone away.   We should fear the stench of sin as well.  In fact, at the General Judgement all of our sin will be laid out to the entirety of the universe... all those things that were done in the dark... will be brought to light.  If all we have is dry bones... what hope do we have of salvation?   We have Christ.   Through Christ we are able to be remade.   By the day.. by the moment.. by the millisecond... He can rebuild us into something that isn't possible on our own.. but that He made possible on the cross.

God is speaking to us today in the same words He used when He called to Lazarus, "Come forth!"   Step out of that which you have created for yourself... for there is no life in the vices.. no life in the darkness of the world.   The only life we have.. the hope we have.. is in Christ... who is life itself.   Then each night as we go to bed and each moment when we rise.. each time we see the sunrise or the pain of sorrow and loss... to call out with the joyful youth of radical gratitude and say "Do it again daddy!  Make me new!"   That is our opportunity with this Lenten season.... a reminder to lift our hearts in prayer... to humble ourselves in Confession... to receive Christ in the Eucharist and say... "Make these dry bones come alive Lord."

His servant and yours,
Brian Mullins

""illum oportet crescere me autem minui"

A reflection on the readings for Sunday of the Fifth Week of Lent: April 2nd, 2017.