The Parish “Temp”!
February 18, 2018
In this morning’s Readings, we hear references to the experience of Noah (Book of Genesis + 1st Letter of St. Paul) and how Our Lord prepared for His public life by spending an extended time alone in the desolate and hostile envi- ronment of the Wilderness. What in the world is the common thread that runs through the actions of these two faithful and faith-filled men?
The answer is something that most of us don’t want to hear or embrace; namely, that if we are serious about becoming close to God, we must step away from the things of this world. One might ask, if is not being unreasonable. The answer to this is simple, but not necessarily easy. If we want to enjoy God’s undivided attention and love, which is not unreasonable; then we must learn to give Him our undivided attention and love, which is just as reasonable. If we want God as Parent to be completely focused on us, His children; then, we as His sons and daughters should be completely focused on Him.
Noah and his family needed to take the radical step of completely separating themselves from the World, because, the World had chosen to completely separate from God. The World was not drawing Noah towards God; the World was pulling Noah and his family away from God! The World had many, many opportunities to turn back to God. Instead, it chose to completely turn away from God; basically, it was like Adam and Eve all over again! Like meteors, that are pulled into the path of the Earth, because of the Earth’s gravity, Noah and his family needed to choose to take a completely different trajectory in order to escape from the deadly pull of Evil. The Ark and the Flood were the only way to accomplish this. Notice that this was not a quick-one day moment of trauma; rather, it lasted for 40 days and 40 nights, which is Bible speak for saying a very long time. Can you imagine the experience? Buttoned-up inside a dark dreary, smelly, damp space. You couldn’t see any daylight. You couldn’t get out for a breath of fresh air. The food had to be going bad. Yet, through this environment, they encountered God; they learned what it takes to be focused on God, and at the end of it all, they would experience God’s love, in a new and cleansed world.
Before Our Lord goes out into the same kind of world that God had called Noah out of, He too needed to spend time with God. If Noah encountered God in a wet world; Jesus encountered God in an arid world. Both were threatening; both included prolong expe- riences of silence and loneliness; and in both, they would discover the presence of God, the Will of God and the Love of God. Once they participated in this conversion experience, they came to understand God; become comfortable with God and learn that there is nothing that this World can offer that could ever possibly compare to God’s love. After these experiences, they understood that true Life is that which is centered in God, not centered in this World.
My brothers and sisters, today’s Readings pass on to us the why of Lent; not so much the how. As you and I begin this Holy Season, let us not be afraid to choose to create our own Arks or map out a course into our own wildernesses. Regardless of how well “we do” over these next 6-7 weeks; let us make of them a time when we place ourselves in the Presence of God, and expect that at the end of it, we will have encountered Him……experienced Him.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Walter J. Benn