John 20:19-23 Fr. Francis Baiocchi
A 4-year old was having lunch with his mother. “Mommy,” he asked, “is God really
everywhere?” “Yes, of course God is everywhere,” his mother replied. “Is God
here in this kitchen?” “Yes, dear,” she replied again. “And in my cup of milk,”
the boy asked, pointing to his cup still half filled with milk. “why, yes!” said
the mother beginning to wonder where this line of questioning was going. The boy
started to smile, and quick as lightning wrapped both his hands over the top of
his cup and shouted. “Gotcha!”
I suspect there is something of that little child in all of us, trying to get a
handle on God. Of course, in the process of trying, we shrink God to a very
small size. Some of us imagine and treat God like a rich, old grandpa who
sleeps most of the time. We tiptoe around all day long trying not to awaken him.
Just avoiding trouble is a great strategy for dealing with the “grandpa” God.
Of course in return for not bothering him, we expect a smooth life and a rich
inheritance at the end of the road.
Some of us, though, have cooked up a much tougher God, a real “hanging judge.”
God sets up all the rules and regulations, knows when and how often we break
them, and is angry with us much of the time because we keep breaking the laws.
So God has to be bought off with lots of prayers, sacrifices and penances.
And if we are good at this sort of stuff, God may or may not grant an
occasional pardon. But don't count on it.
Others of us imagine a God much like ourselves, one who like to get gifts and
can be easily manipulated – if the price is right. So we try a little bribery.
“God, I'll do this for you, if you do that for me!” “I'll light a candle every
day for a year if you'll cure my cancer” “I'll bury a Saint Joseph statue upside
down on my front lawn if you find someone to purchase my house.” This God is
especially fond of our burning incense and kneeling up straight!
The problem is. All the gods we imagine are too small. That's why we have this
wonderful feast of Pentecost. Today's Scripture readings tell us God is wind and
fire. Wind is invisible to our eyes, but breathes life into us moment by moment.
God is wind, powerful and uncontainable, breezing across the entire earth,
whispering to us, inspiring us, constantly breathing life into our lungs. God
is also fire, hot and intense, setting us ablaze with a passion for life, for
love, for compassion and justice, burning up what is dry and dead, clearing
the way for new growth, preparing us for the new seeds the wind brings us.
But God is not a grandpa. God is not a hanging judge. God is not One to be
bribed. God is wind. God is fire. So why then are we so often cold and
lifeless? Why do we lack passion? Why are we so dry and dead? Why do we have
such narrow vision? Why are we lacking in compassion, love, forgiveness and a
sense of justice? Might it be because we do not allow God to be God for us?
Might it be because we are overly insistent on stumbling along with a much
lesser God at our side. Dare we change Gods? Dare we choose this very day to
let the true God be our God – no substitutes, no pale imitations, the real
thing. Let God be our wind. Let God be our fire. Today and for all our
tomorrows! Now that's a “GOTCHA!” AMEN!