Homily 06.05.11 Seventh Sunday of Easter - Year I John 17:1-11
"If you read magazines like Time, Newsweek or U.S. News and World Report, you will have noticed how in recent years, a number of articles - usually around Christmas or Easter time - focus on Jesus and matters relating to Christianity.
If you thought that these articles revealed something of an opening of the modern mind to Christ and the Christian phenomenon, you soon realized, after making your way through the articles, that that was not so.
The real “superstars” of these articles are not Jesus and not God, but the speculative theoreticians who, in recent decades, have been spinning their own ideas and conjectures about Jesus and Christian origins.
And what are some of the ideas and conjectures proposed? Well, they usually go something like this: Jesus was a kind of “Jewish Socrates;” or Jesus was an “ironic secular sage;” or Jesus had no real spiritual program for humanity; or Jesus is now in need of being swept clean of the webs of myth and dogma that have accumulated around him.
Ultimately, what these cover stories of our magazines reveal is a deep religious crisis within the thought and life of many of our contemporaries.
It’s a crisis that involves not simply a repudiation of the claims of Jesus to being the Son of God and Israel’s expected Messiah and Savior; or a rejection of the concept of miracles, or of resurrection from the dead, or an afterlife.
The crisis reaches into the very concept of a transcendent First Cause of the universe/of all that exists.
But this whole crisis of belief and in particular the crisis of whether to believe or not to believe in Jesus Christ (and in all that he represents, and claims, and reveals) is nothing new.
From the earliest centuries of Christianity it was recognized that if the divinity of Jesus Christ is denied; if he is not the very Son of God, then he and we are not only terribly misled; we are utterly alone. God is not really and truly our “Emmanuel,” “God with us.”
The body of Jesus on the cross represents not only a deluded messiah-figure; the body of Jesus on the cross represents humanity “on-the-cross,” which is to say, humanity forsaken!
But if, as we believe, Jesus is indeed the Son of God, very God made flesh, then God has entered into the stuff of time and space; God has breathed our air and walked on our earth; God has shared our living and our dying. And therefore, the destiny/the goal of our living and dying (our destiny and goal as people of faith) are the same as Christ’s.
|Velasquez, Supper at Emmaus,|
New York, Metropolitan Museum
But what folly it all was! – If Jesus of Nazareth did not embody God’s presence to us, God’s love for us. - What delusion it was! - If a saving God, in Jesus, did not die on a cross, and escape death’s grasp, and ascend beyond creation’s confines.
But if truth underlay our faith and our worship, then far from indulging in folly and delusion, we are the beneficiaries of and the participants in the most radical and thoroughgoing revolution this world has ever known or ever will know.
So then, I conclude this homily with a hope and a wish: that this Easter Season of the year 2011 has so opened our minds and hearts and souls to the person, and the word, and the will of Jesus Christ - and to the influence of his Holy Spirit - that Jesus can say of us what he said of his disciples when, in today’s Gospel, he declared to God: “Father, they have truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them … because they are truly yours.”