Religion - being our relationship to an Eternal All-Powerful Being in Whom we are living at this very moment - is serious stuff. However, it appears that this God does have some sense of humor, so I will start with a few bits of humor found in the Casa Maria Newsletter of the Catholic Worker Hospitality House in Milwaukee.
- Rodney Dangerfield - "My luck is so bad that if I bought a cemetery, people would stop dying."
- Groucho Marx - "I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury."
- Bob Hope - "I don't feel old. I don't feel anything until noon. Then it's time for my nap."
- Unknown - "By the time a man is wise enough to watch his step, he's too old to go anywhere."
The first reading from Deuteronomy talks about a strict obedience to the Law. Immediately following are 16 Chapters to set out the Law in specifics.
The second reading is from the Letter of Paul to the Romans where Paul says that righteousness is no longer through the Jewish Law, but that all people are sinners and are justified by the free grace given to us to us through the redemption in Christ Jesus.
Finally in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus teaches the crowds that praying "Lord, Lord" or that "Prophesing", or that "driving our demons in His name" or that "even doing mighty deeds in His Name" is not enough. In fact even though one of us would do these things, Jesus will say to us "I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers."
But if we listen to His words and act on them we are like people wise enough to build our houses on rock. But the reverse is true, namely if we only listen to His words but do not act on them we will end up building our houses on sand. In short, Faith without action on that Faith is nothing.
Now first we have to know what are the "Words of Jesus" that we then have to act on. Because the New Testament was written in words, phrases and expressions of 2,000 years ago, all of us have troubles understanding the meaning of much of it. We need to understand what Jesus is saying to us in the 21st century. To do this we need to spend time with the Bible on a very regular basis. But then for the acting on these "Words" we must make ourselves aware of what is happening in our locality, our state, our country and in the world. It is then that we can see what Jesus is telling us to do through His Gospel.
Jesus' words at the Last Supper: "I leave you one commandment - that you love one another" is the starting point. If we cannot love one another while He went out and died on the Cross for us we cannot ever act on the words of Jesus. The hard part of this message is that we have to love everyone, not just those we are comfortable with or who believe that same things as we do.
"Love" as Jesus meant is is not an emotion nor a good feeling. It is working to not being caught up in the materialism, the scientific agnosticism or atheism, and the greed we see around us. The recent Popes, especially John Paul II and Benedict XVI have looked at Europe and viewed it as being missionary territory, because of the prevalance of these and the subsequent lack of Faith. And they see this as beginning now in the United States as well. They have also - from the Words of the Gospels - seen that the Church must give aa they call it a "preference for the poor and powerless". Think back to the Beatitudes. Think back to how Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats at the Last Judgment. "Lord when did we
- give You food to eat when You were hungry
- give You drink when You were thirsty
- take You in as a stranger
- cover Your nakedness
- visit You when You were sick
- come to You in prison
While some here may disagree as to what must be done in particulars, we are witnessing on the State and Federal level a cutting of programs to help the poor and a putting of the support of our governments more and more on these poor and on the Middle Class. This is simply not listening to the words of Jesus and certainly not acting on His words. Some where we must stand up and be counted. Then we are acting on the Words of Jesus Our Shepherd Who is present here at this moment and will be with us as we figure out what to do.