What should I do?

Dec 16th Sunday Readings.

Three groups of people ask John the Baptist the same question in this week’s gospel, gianna-trewavas-740067-unsplash“What should we do?” The gospel doesn’t tell us if they listened to what he said or liked his answer or if they went and did what he directed. 

What we do know is that after he answered, the gospel says people were filled with expectation and wondered if John might be the chosen one of God. John’s teaching was so radical and life changing that they wondered if John could be Christ.
John’s response is beautiful and powerful. He says that while he purifies with water, the Messiah will purify with fire and the spirit. In other words, the work of Christ will bring about even greater transformation, even more complete purification. 

One way to think about this gospel. This gospel is a formula for how to repent and believe in the good news. 

Step 1: Ask “What should I do?” Be direct. Ask the big question. Expect a response.

Step 2: Listen. Actually wait for a response. God works in mysterious ways and on His own timeline. Ask and and keep listening.

Step 3: Look for the messiah who will cleanse you with fire and the Spirit. Receive the Sacraments. Go to confession. Let the love of God burn up the rough, tough, and gross parts of your life and behavior.

Step 4: Preach the good news. Share what you’ve been given. Every gift of God is good enough to be shared in some way.

LIVE IT: Take some time for an honest and earnest prayer only asking one thing, “God, what do you want me to do?”

The Good Word for March 8th

Mark_TwainFor the complete 3rd Sunday of Lent readings click here.

One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished how much he had learned in seven years.” I love this quote because it is so true. I can’t tell you how many things my father, really my parents, said to me that I dismissed as a younger man and have only come to appreciate now many years later. Have you ever had this experience?

In the gospel today, we get a little insight into the developing faith of the disciples. We get to see them have one of these moments when they come to realize something Jesus said, which looks almost crazy, is actually true. This little glimpse into the interior life of the early Christians is often overshadowed by the big dramatic story of Jesus’ temple kerfuffle.

After turning over the moneychanger’s table and driving out the animals, Jesus declares that the very temple they are standing in will be destroyed and he will rebuild it in three days. Can you imagine how crazy this sounded to the 1st century person? It would be like saying you could build the Vikings stadium in three days. What?! We had to rent this super huge crane and construct custom built steel pieces. We couldn’t even get everything delivered in three months! Three days? You’re crazy. I am sure the disciples dismissed this saying too.

So it is amazing to read about how only later did they come to understand how this saying was true. It was true because Jesus was talking about the temple of his body and his ressurection. Jesus was replacing the temple and the sacrifice with his sacrifice on the cross and with his flesh of the Eucharist. The disciples were Jesus’ closest followers, but we get to see that they didn’t understand everything Jesus said instantly or perfectly. Only over the course of time did they come to understand and believe.

If there is something that the Church or Jesus teaches that is hard for you to believe or understand, know this: you are not alone. The disciples had the same experience. They heard things they didn’t get until later. The great saints of the Church all had growing faiths. From Augustine to Francis to Teresa, they all grew in their belief and understanding.

If there is something you don’t believe, you have to choose if you are going to actively pursue the truth or comfortably remain where you are. The difference between saints and sinners is that saints keep searching for what is true.

The only authentic reason to believe something is because it is true.

Keep searching for truth, Jesus is confident you will find him.

Live It: This week: Make a list of questions you have about Catholicism or Jesus. It can be 1 question or 100. Next week: do something to find the answer. Email Chris if you want help with your search.