Recently I was feeling a little down. After reading this article in the National Catholic Register titled: “How Will Same-Sex ‘Marriage’ Change Our Culture?”, it occurred to me that in the future I might have to do something I never thought I would have to do – defend the idea of monogamy in marriage! Crazy! And then my mind began to wander to other problems – the poor state of Catechesis in general, the indifference of many people carrying on as if nothing is wrong, the news of Detroit being bankrupt, and our Lord’s warnings about the future:
“And then many will fall away, and betray one another, and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold.” [Matthew 24:10-12]
“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” [Luke 18:8]
A grim outlook to say the least. And while lamenting to a friend about the way things seem to be going, I said “I guess my one consolation is that regardless of the way I think things are going to turn out, I can’t see the whole picture, only God does.”
And that is Faith. Not that we see, or have concluded based on evidence, or have made up in order to make life meaningful. It is quite the opposite. Faith comes from God. Faith is believing in what we have heard, what God has revealed to us through the Scriptures & entire Tradition of the Church to this day.
In the end, my bleak outlook is not the final word. No, this is the final word:
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” [John 3:16]
This is the final word: that God loves us, and has not given us up for lost, but has stepped into our world. That God would go so far to send His own Son to pay the price of redeeming us from the mess we’ve made. And with this Faith, comes Hope.
So does that mean things will get better in the world? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe they will only get worse. But where’s the hope in that, you say?
Hope is not the same as positive thinking. A priest friend of mine used to say, “I hate positive thinking. Why should we pretend that everything is OK? Our Lord said Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted, and there is a lot to mourn about!” What does it mean to mourn? A quick search on Dictionary.com yields: “verb. To feel or express sorrow or grief over (misfortune, loss, or anything regretted).” I think mourning begins with a basic recognition that something has gone terribly wrong. But usually, the reaction that follows is an attempt to distract ourselves, or pretend that things are just fine. Yet if we flip the words of the Beatitude around, we get: “Cursed are those who do not mourn, for they will not be comforted.” If you never mourn, what use do you have for comfort? Sure, I believe Jesus Christ is the saviour of the world. But unless I recognize there is something to be saved from, why should I hope for a saviour? Jesus proclaims that those who mourn are blessed *because* they will be comforted. Because it’s only once I have really accepted the futile and hopeless situation I’m in, that I will really be able to see how God the Father’s love and care for us is more than icing on the cake of my otherwise easy life.
If anything, God’s love for us is the cake, and whatever temporary security or ease I experience in life is in fact the icing. God’s love for us is the one and only thing we can really hold on to, the one and only thing we can sink our teeth into, when the world is falling apart around us.
So what is this love of God that comforts those who mourn, so much that Our Lord Jesus Christ pronounces them to be Blessed in His Sermon on the Mount?
“In this is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins.” [1 John 4:10]
Even as I write this, I feel my emotional grasp of this truth fading. But I know this truth will always be, because it is not something I have invented, but what God has done for us, to show an undeserving world His undying love. And no matter how I have failed, no matter what I am going through, I know I can always come before the perfect manifestation of God’s love for us, the reason for our hope, the gate to Eternal Life – the saving Passion, Death, and glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, made present on the altar in the Holy Mass.
“Do you love me, Lord?” I cried
“This much”, said He
As He stretched out His arms upon the cross,