Saturday, February 6, 2010

Because God is Not a Television

It’s one of those mornings when God seems to be speaking directly to me. Maybe that’s because last night was troubling, one of those times in a 25-year marriage that challenge both partners. This is no big confession. We’ve all had times like these. Father Barnes gave his usual A+ homily at Mass today, saying that we shouldn’t think of God as a television set, where we can change the channel when we don’t like the message.

No sooner had he finished his homily than a new program came on my channel: An elderly couple I have never seen before, maybe 25 years older than Katie and I, made their noisy way up the aisle behind me to the left. Father B had begun the communion rite, and here this old man and woman were talking between themselves and—what—arguing?! They plopped themselves into the pew directly in front of me.

She said something. He said, “I can’t understand a word you’re saying.” Apparently they were looking for some people they couldn’t find. They continued to exchange querulous words and shrugs as the rite unfolded. They did not receive communion, and neither did I. Instead, I meditated on marriage, in and outside of Church. And wondered if this was a vision of the future.

After Mass, I came across the street to my office and found Frank’s beautiful post about Sister Wendy on prayer. The message on this channel is clear too: Pray with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and God will answer. You just have to pray really hard.

Then came men’s group and, after it, a brief chat with my dear 85-year-old friend Frank G. “It’s really simple,” he said after a complex hour-long discussion of science and faith by a biochemist at Harvard Medical School. “I don’t know why people complicate things,” Frank G. continued. “God gave us the Ten Commandments, and he wants us to follow them. It’s simple.”

No need to change channels this morning. From an elderly couple to Sister Wendy to Frank G., God is giving me all the messages I can handle.