Friday, April 11, 2008
“Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:8-9)
“SOUL-SURFING” – April 20, 2008
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
It’s been long-time Catholic tradition to begin each day with a very brief prayer offering oneself to God’s good use in the hours of wakefulness to follow. As a little kid, I remember yawning and wiping slumber from my eyes as I prayed the prayer I’d been taught: “O my Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for Thy greater honor and glory, the salvation of my soul, for the intentions of our Holy Father, and for the poor souls in Purgatory. Amen.” Now, generations later, as still I yawn and wipe slumber from my eyes, the prayer is briefer: “Lord, please use me for good this day.” As a little kid, I’d no real idea what I was saying. As an adult, I know too well. I know it’s in me to spend my waking hours as a selfish, ill-tempered grump. So I pray: “Lord, please use me for good this day. May those whose lives I touch know you through me.”
In the gospel passage we hear today, we find Jesus, in conversation with his disciples, making reference to his Father, his Father’s house, and Jesus’ imminent departure to his Father. Unable to understand what Jesus is talking about, “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:8-9) I can picture Jesus staring wide-eyed at these disciples and thinking them complete dopes! Thinks Jesus: don’t they know that I’m the Son of the Heavenly Father? Don’t they yet understand that to know me is to know the Heavenly Father? Have I been wasting my time here?
And if those first disciples had trouble seeing the Heavenly Father in the person of his Son, Jesus, it’s no surprise that our contemporary world is nearly blinded to the presence of the Father and his Son. Why, we ask? Because, I believe, many of us 21st century Christians do not hear God’s whispered words come with each new day’s dawn: “I need your heart, your mind, your mouth and your strength this day to love my world. Will you give them to me?” And hearing the divine summons, we respond, “Yes, Lord, use me for good this day. May those whose lives I touch know you through me.”
Last month, the Associated Press ran an article with a splashy headline announcing that the Vatican had updated its “thou-shalt-not” list, and it offers us contemporary Christians some direction as each day we give ourselves to God’s good use. Allow me to quote from that article:
“In olden days, the deadly sins included lust, gluttony and greed. Now, the Catholic Church says pollution, mind-damaging drugs and genetic experiments are on its updated thou-shalt-not list. Also receiving fresh attention by the Vatican [is] social injustice, along the lines of the age-old maxim: ‘The rich get richer while the poor get poorer.’
“In the Vatican's latest update on how God's law is being violated in today's world, Monsignor Gianfranco Girotti [a member of the Roman Curia] was asked what, in his opinion, are the ‘new sins.’ He cited ‘violations of the basic rights of human nature’ through genetic manipulation, drugs that ‘weaken the mind and cloud intelligence,’ and the imbalance between the rich and the poor. ‘If yesterday sin had a rather individualistic dimension, today it has a weight, a resonance, that's especially social, rather than individual.’
“It's not the first time that the Vatican has sought to put a modern spin on sin. Last year, the Vatican took on the problem of highway accidents, issuing a kind of ‘Ten Commandments’ for drivers against the sins of road rage, alcohol abuse and even rudeness behind the wheel.
“On the environment, both Pope Benedict XVI and the late Pope John Paul II frequently expressed concern about the fate of the Earth. During Benedict's papacy, Vatican engineers have developed plans for some Holy See buildings to use solar energy, including photovoltaic cells on the roof of the auditorium for pilgrims' audiences with the pontiff.
“John Paul also dedicated much of his long papacy to condemning the gap between haves and have-nots in speeches in his travels throughout the world as well as in writings. ‘The poor are always becoming poorer and the rich ever more rich, feeding unsustainable social injustice.’” (Associated Press, March 11, 2008)
In the gospel passage we hear today, “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’” (John 14:8-9) In our own day, Jesus still begs to be recognized as he walks among us in every sort of human depravity and need. And too often we find ourselves as blind as was Philip and the other disciples, blind to the God who walks among us, blind to the possibility we can make a difference in a world so full of suffering. But American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead offers us the same challenge that Jesus offered his very first disciples: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
God whispered to each of us this morning at the breaking of dawn, “I need your heart, your mind, your mouth and your strength this day to love my world. Will you give them to me? Will you?
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