“We live and die; Christ died and lived!” ~ John Stott
Before delving into today’s Gospel, I’d like to give a nod to the author of the Book of Ecclesiastes, “Qoheleth” as he calls himself, for his bold Old Testament prognostication regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020. Among his many pearls in today’s 1st Reading (Ecclesiastes 3:1-11), “there is a time to be born, and a time to die” . . . “a time to weep and a time to laugh” . . . “a time to be silent and a time to speak,” he also leaves us with this apocalyptic instruction: “There is a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.”
Tonight at happy hour, place a friendly wager with your spouse or friend that you can prove that “social distancing” is in the Bible. Easiest $5 bucks you’ll ever make. Ecclesiastes 3:5 if you’re keeping score or need the precise reference.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 9:18-22) Jesus foreshadows his passion. “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised,” he tells Peter and the others after asking them earlier in the passage “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
This is of course a very important question for each and every one of us to reflect upon often. Who is Jesus to you? Who do you say that he is? Saint Paul certainly minces no words in Corinthians 15:12-20 on matters pertaining to the very cornerstone of our faith, the Resurrection, when he says “If there is no resurrection of the dead,then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” So while those in the crowd said that Jesus was John the Baptist, others pegged him for Elijah, and still there were others who believed that he was one on the ancient prophets that had arisen, we know that in Jesus we have the fulfillment of all things. The Resurrection is the fulfillment of all things, that seminal event in which we the faithful place our hope.
About three years ago, Senator Diane Feinstein had this to say to Judge Amy Coney Barrett during a hearing held in conjunction with her Circuit Court of Appeals Confirmation. “In your case, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.” The “dogma” in this case is in direct reference to Judge Barrett’s ardent Catholic Faith. Judge Barrett is rumored to be the heavy favorite to be nominated tomorrow for the Supreme Court Justice appointment that was necessitated as a result of the passing of long time Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I do not pretend to know much about Supreme Court Appointments. I do know however that it is clearly unconstitutional to impose a religious test upon Judge Barrett or any appointee. It was in fact every bit as egregious when the Senate tried to keep Justice Brandeis off the Court in 1916 because of his Jewish Faith. But in any event, I can say without question that if someone were to say this about me, that the dogma lives loudly within me, they would be paying me the biggest compliment possible. I sincerely hope that people will in fact say that about me in the present, in the future, and long after I’m gone.
Does the dogma of the resurrected Christ live loudly within you? In deference to Ms. Feinstein, I believe she has it backwards. For if it does not, that is a source of great ~ and eternal ~ concern.