Sunday, February 7, 2010

To Get Back to Basics

After a week wandering in the wilderness, I find it’s Sunday again. What a miracle! A chance to begin again! God is merciful. Sunday is an invitation to get back to first things. Because I let my life get too complicated sometimes. This business of being a Catholic is not that difficult.

Being Catholic means believing a short list of things, understanding them as facts, and living my life moment to moment as though these facts were true.

If God exists—
If God created me and you and the laws by which our world works—
If God loves his creation so much that he sent his only Son to live among us as a real, living, breathing, loving, suffering man two thousand years ago—
If this “Jesus of Nazareth” came into contact with real people like John and Andrew, performed miracles among them and taught them how to live, and then really was crucified, died, and rose from the dead to appear among them once more—
If He, Jesus, then promised and delivered the Holy Spirit to guide his followers after his final bodily disappearance from this earth—
Well, these facts have consequences. I need to bring my life in line with them.

But how can I do so when I forget most of the time?

Most of the time I do not live my life conscious of God, the way a child in a classroom is always aware of the teacher at the front of the room—and not a nasty, critical teacher, by the way, but the wisest, kindest, most forgiving teacher you can possibly imagine.

Most of the time I act as though I created my life and control my existence, as though what I do with my life is “my business, keep your hands off.”

Most of the time I act as though Jesus were a really good dead guy, a nice thought, a word to warm my insides, a slogan to wear on a lapel pin—not a Presence in my life, as real as the Man who appeared walking beside some of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Someone I can see and talk to and learn from moment to moment. (Heck, even those disciples were oblivious to His Presence, to who he really was. And they were walking alongside the most significant figure in earthly history. And he wasn’t going to be around that long. No wonder we’re usually oblivious.)

Most of the time I cower under the fear of death instead of living my life as if Eternal Life were not just a wish or a dream but a reality.

Most of the time I forget the implications of Pentecost and of what the Apostles carried forward, the Church and its teaching. 

Most of the time this past week I have lived this way: forgetful, oblivious, self-absorbed, keep your hands off.

But it is Sunday again, the day the Lord made for us to rest from labor and to honor and especially to remember him. Sunday is his ever-returning gift, like Christmas celebrated for the children of his family once a week. God’s offers us his forgiveness, he invites us to return to his courts, where one day is worth a thousand elsewhere. We just have to remember and ask and the door will be opened. We just have to remember.