Choose to Believe

Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
September 17, 2022

Today’s Readings:

Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Paul strongly confronts the doubts of the Corinthian community regarding the Resurrection.

Someone may say, “How are the dead raised? 
With what kind of body will they come back?”
You fool!

1 Corinthians 15:35

Remember that these post-Resurrection Christians had expected an immediate Parousia, or end of time. They thought that with the completion of Christ’s redemptive act, that was it! Time for heaven for all us believers. Yippee!

Well, not so fast!

When Parousia didn’t happen, the people grew a little confounded. They began to awaken to  the hard lesson  that redemption is not time-bound, but continues in the timeless gift of grace given to new generations. It is up to us to work through our own lives to become one with the Pascal Mystery of Christ.

In the miracle of God’s eternity, each of us has the chance to engage the power of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection by the faithful living of our own lives – no matter if we have lived in the first or the twenty-first century. 

God doesn’t do “time” and doesn’t have a calendar.

But still I feel for those struggling Corinthians! It’s hard to believe sometimes, don’t you agree? It’s hard to wade through the sometimes tumultuous unfolding of our lives and history to find God.

When I taught eighth graders many years ago, one intelligent young girl asked me this question:

What if everything you believe is wrong? 
Was the way you live your life worth it?

It was a powerful question and it has stayed with me for half a century. I continue to ask myself versions of the same question especially when I can’t find God in the circumstances of my life or world – when children are sick, or old people suffer, or human beings dreadfully hurt one another – and I have no answers.

Like the early Corinthians, I ask God, “Where are You? I thought your Resurrection healed all this? I thought You had redeemed our suffering world! 

Paul and Jesus, in our readings today, give us images to help us mature in a long and lasting faith that doesn’t answer but receives these questions with trust and hope.

What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.
And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

1 Corinthians 15

By faith, the power of Christ’s Resurrection has been sown in us like a seed. Because we are creatures of time, that power needs time to root itself in every aspect of our lives – our choices, actions, our very nature.

Jesus tells us that God is sowing the seeds of the Resurrection in our lives. Our job is simply provide good soil by choosing to believe and act on God’s Word.

“This is the meaning of the parable. 
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, 
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance.”

Luke 8:5-11

Poetry: Flickering Mind – Denise Levertov

Lord, not you
it is I who am absent.
At first
belief was a joy I kept in secret,
stealing alone
into sacred places:
a quick glance, and away -- and back,
I have long since uttered your name
but now
I elude your presence.
I stop
to think about you, and my mind
at once
like a minnow darts away,
into the shadows, into gleams that fret
unceasing over
the river's purling and passing.
Not for one second
will my self hold still, but wanders
everywhere it can turn.  Not you,
it is I am absent.
You are the stream, the fish, the light,
the pulsing shadow.
You the unchanging presence, in whom all
moves and changes.
How can I focus my flickering, perceive
at the fountain's heart
the sapphire I know is there?

Music: Out of Time – Liz Story

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