Delivered at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, but only for the Vigil Mass, as the Deacons are preaching on Sunday:
There is an ancient Chinese proverb, that in reality is probably more like a curse than anything: ‘May you live in interesting times.’
It seems that the more ‘interesting’ the times, the more restless the spirit. We become more anymore anxious as the calm serenity we desire in the world fades further and further from the current situation.
As I look around our world today, it seems that we do indeed live in very ‘interesting’ times, do we not? Listening to a podcast earlier this week, the commentator argued that the ‘global hate index’ has only seemed to grow higher and higher over the last years. We have a global war on terror, we have increased rioting in streets, natural disasters, the political world seems to be more interesting in having a bully pulpit rather than civil debates about actual issues that need to be solved and addressed.
It makes me look at the world and think: ‘Where are we truly going?’
But then I also realize all that angst that exists out in the world, affects the Church as well; impacts our relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church, too. With everything ‘out there’ being in such chaos, it is natural to translate that into what we do ‘in here,’ too. How can Jesus remain the same when everything we know is in constant flux?
How are we as Catholic Christians to react? This question and thought has been on my mind for some time. How do we handle the chaos and uncertainty of this world? If we truly believe that Jesus is the victor at the end of time, what are we to do?
As I pondered all of this… Stuff…. over the last week, I looked at the Opening Collect, the Opening Prayer for Mass today, and I would like to read it again, maybe a little slower:
O God, who cause the minds of the faithful
to unite in a single purpose,
grant your people to love what you command
and to desire what you promise,
that, amid the uncertainties of this world,
our hearts may be fixed on that place
where true gladness is found.
Through our Lord…
Let’s take a look at that line by line:
‘Who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose’
In John 17, Jesus prays that we might all be one as He and The Father are One. When we unite in Christ Jesus, we unite in that inter play of relationship between Jesus and the Father, through the Holy Spirit. And a Church bounded together in them is unbreakable; is able to take on the the chaos of the world that we find ourselves in.
‘Grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise’
If we want to seek that true happiness and peace that is our deepest desire, it is only available to us by living in right relationship with Jesus. His commands (and by extension the commands of the Church) do not trap nor ensnare, they bring us to a greater and deeper freedom! And by living in Jesus, we come to desire Him even more! Nothing compares to the Love of Christ Jesus!
‘Amid the uncertainties of this world’
Psalm 146:3 states ‘put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save.’ Perhaps this is the greatest source of our anxiety and turmoil in this world: instead of relying on the God of the Universe, we rely on political machinations, we rely on the strength of the self, we rely on the powers of this world, to solve our problems and issues; instead of bringing them to Jesus in prayer, in trust, in love. When we dwell in Jesus Christ, the uncertainties of this world are no more than water flowing off a duck’s back.
‘Our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found.’
As Catholics, as Christians, our destiny is not here in this world, but in the glory that awaits in heaven. The good things of this world reflect and help us to keep our eyes fixed on that prize, but we can only get there through Jesus Christ. He alone is the one we are to put trust in, for He alone is the Faithful and True God! He alone is able to calm the storms of our lives and bring us that peace that is found in the depth our hearts and souls.
Therefore, when we look out and see storms, waves, chaos and uncertainty; we turn to cling more faithfully to Jesus and to the Church that He gave us to guide our way back to Him. Then, and only then, are we able to rise above the storms of this world and triumph in Him; and despite the interesting times that we find ourselves in, are we able to keep that peace and serenity that comes solely from Christ Jesus Our Lord!