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Archive for November 12th, 2018

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Sometimes God Makes No Sense

We’re so used to the cadence of some gospel passages that we sometimes miss entirely the occasional bits of odd logic that Jesus uses to make a point.  Take for example the two rhetorical questions that he poses in Luke 15: 1-10.  “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?”  He follows up with the story of a woman who’s lost a coin, turns the house upside-down in search of it, and then hosts a party when she finds it.  What woman wouldn’t do such a thing, he wonders aloud.

I’m neither a shepherd nor a woman, so I cannot speak with absolute certainty about the wisdom of either course of action.  All the same, it strikes me that no sensible shepherd would abandon ninety-nine sheep in the desert.  Losing one sheep may be bad, but to risk losing the rest of the flock for the sake of the one seems absolutely crazy to me.  If it were me I’d cut my losses and move the ninety-nine to safer pastures.

24F84D59-A0C4-4C69-A2C5-FEA897836C31The same goes for the woman and the lost coin.  I could see myself turning the house inside-out to find a sack filled with securities or bundles of currency, but not for a coin.  And as for inviting the neighbors in to celebrate, forget it.  The last thing I’d want to advertise would be my financial carelessness.

In fact, in both of these scenarios Jesus expects his hearers to react with incredulity.  Reasonable people simply don’t behave in these ways, and Jesus knows it.  But that’s his point.

God’s ways are not our ways, and what Jesus is trying to tell us is that out of love for us God will sometimes do what seems to us the irrational.  God will even send the Son to save us, undeserving though we certainly are.  And that point depends upon the absurd logic in the gospel passage.

God loves us more than we’ll ever imagine or deserve, and for that love we ought to be grateful.  In spite of everything, and whether in thick or thin, God promises to stick with us.  And even when it makes no sense to us at all, God will send the Son to fetch us when we stray or are lost.  Such is the nature of unconditional love.

45EEBDCF-75D3-493E-A723-F6485118E132NOTES

+Winter returned rather abruptly this past week and it managed to stretch my trip to the airport on November 7th from the more normal hour and a half to nearly four hours.  The snow amounted to a couple of inches, but it was enough to remind a lot of people that they had forgotten how to drive on ice and snow.  My first big white-knuckle moment came ten miles east of the abbey when I passed a major accident with three semis and a bunch of cars.  They looked like toys, strewn along the sides of the overpass.  It got better after that, but it was incredibly slow.

+On November 8th I spoke at the monthly meeting of Legatus on Long Island, New York.  Preceding the talk I presided and preached at a Mass for the members, held at Saint Joseph’s Church in Garden City, NY.  Today’s post is an amended version of the sermon I gave that evening.

+On Saturday the 10th I attended the final game of the football season, which Saint John’s won handily.  That capped a perfect 10-0 season.  It was cold, and in the second quarter it started to snow — so much so that they had to sweep the snow off the lines on the field.  In a pre-game interview a reporter asked the coach of Thomas More College whether he was ready to play in the cold.  To which he replied:  “We should be fine with that.  Last week we played in Cincinnati where it was 55.”  Somebody must not have told him that it was 17 outside.  I’m sure it had no impact on their ability to play well.

96769FE2-4EFB-4A57-BB8A-298151CA60CD+Also on Saturday I presided at the cemetery service for Saint John’s alumnus Don Coy.  Don lived a long and wonderful life, and we all pardoned the snow as Don’s last act of whimsy in a life well-lived.  The scene was beautiful, since the snow transformed the cemetery.  And when the soldier played taps as the snow fell silently, there was scarcely a dry eye among us.

+November 9th is the feast of the dedication of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome.  Most people are entirely unaware that it is the cathedral church of Rome — and Saint Peter’s is not.  But no matter.  It’s a great place to visit, and despite the fact that there is much to see, tourists largely bypass it.  What I love most about it, however, is not the huge church but the 13th-century cloister.  Once upon a time a community of Benedictine monks staffed the basilica, and their cloister is a medieval treasure.  The photos in today’s post give a glimpse into that scarcely visited space.

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