Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Dry land fish hunting

August 1, 2017

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

Lectionary: 402

EX 33:7-11; 34:5B-9, 28

PS 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13

MT 13:36-43

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my grandfather Jim lately.  He used to join us in our journeys into the world.  From hunting to fishing, he was always there to lend a hand and to cook the apples.  Those were some of the most amazing apples!   Memories of picking them with him in his small orchard before the hunting trips, walking with him through the forest as he picked out morel mushrooms from a distance that made one wonder if he had some sort of sixth sense, and just being with him as we did things together.  The readings for the last few weeks have reminded me so much of both him and my maternal grandfather, Delmon, as well.  Farming.  Gathering.   Searching and finding.  The seed and the soil.

The key to understanding all of it really hinges on the Incarnation.  We can’t even understand who we are, what it means to be male and female unless we take into account who Jesus truly was.  That God became a man and dwelt among us.   The word John uses at the start of his Gospel to describe that is the same word that means “tent.”   He built a tent with us.  That harkens back to Moses and the tent of meeting.  In this scene from Exodus, we see Moses going to God to learn, and Joshua remaining in the tent to be in the presence of God.  It could have remained that way.  Yet, God wanted to show his love to the whole world.  So he himself came down, a seed of mercy and love, and like all seeds died and was buried.   Then through the power that belongs to divinity alone, rose from the dead into new life.  Not a man without a body, but a man with a glorified body.

We aren’t souls trapped in bodies.  We also aren’t just some sort of animal with an evolutionary advantage.  Mankind is both body and soul.  The body reveals to us the invisible.  It is through a body that God himself, who has never been seen, revealed himself to the world.   He revealed to us the trinity, the relationship, the life that forms out of true love.  In that, we understand that love should bring life.   In understanding the relationship between man and woman, we find the relationship of the Trinity.  A life giving one that produces a third.   God could have been content to remain alone.  He didn’t need to create us.   He did anyway.   Being love in its purest form, he then wanted to share with us the beauty of his divine life.   To bring us into a perfect union with him.  Communion.

Intimacy.  A heard a nun once say that intimacy means “into me see.”   God offers that to us.  He didn’t just remain in the tent.   He instead became one of us and went out into the field, seeking the weeds.   That’s the funny thing about foraging, isn’t it?  All of the food we have today began as a weed.  It began as something growing in the wild.   We took it, we cultivated it, we guided it to become the plant we wanted in our garden.  That is what the incarnation is about.  That is the seed.  It has come to bring us weeds out of the world and into the garden, back into Eden where we can be face to face with God.  Where?  In our very hearts.  Then he gave us the Church and the Sacraments to help us grow in communion with him, that we might begin to be more like the plant that one wants in the garden… producing fruit, dying to self, and rising with Christ into the fullness of life.

Saint Alphonsus Liguori set an example for us in his life that shows us what it looks like when we allow God to form us into fruit bearing plants.   Even when they took his own group away from him, he turned to God.  Though depression set in for a time, he rebounded.   He allowed his own wants and desires to die away and instead began to serve the kingdom of God.  Instead of a depressed shell of a man fighting to regain his own honor, they found instead a man who prophesied, experienced visions, and performed miracles.   As we think about this Saint and those saints who affected our lives in some way, let us ask them for their prayers and support to help us to become a plant suitable for fruit, good to the taste and pleasing to the eye.