Tuesday, 17 April 2012

3rd sunday of Easter - Year B

Acts 3:13-15, 17-19; 1 John 2:1-5; Luke 24:35-48

The question of the existence of God is fundamental to the human journey. It used to be a question whose answer was taken for granted: of course God exists!

Men and women in past ages from every nation on the earth have raised their heads to a supreme being. They gave expression to their faith in many and varied ways. These included offerings of grain and livestock and even humans.

The gods of the pagans were sometimes savage and bloodthirsty and shared human feelings like jealousy and lust. Others were more sublime and mysterious and benign. Whether their god was a spirit living in a landscape or an animal or the sun, or whether it was a more cosmic force drawing humans into its power, or whether it was just the spirit of the ancestors - it is an historical fact that human beings seem to be born with a natural ‘inclination’, ‘desire’, ‘recognition’ of a being who reigns over all other beings. To deny the god(s) was generally to invite some severe punishment or even death.

Today there are many who deny the existence of God. They call themselves atheists, ‘a-theists’. They are a relatively new phenomenon in human history. Also there are agnostics, who are not ready to accept the reality of God, nor are they ready to deny the possibility. Many people live a ‘de facto’ atheism or agnosticism in their daily lives. The majority of the human race are strongly theist – believers in God.

We have to admit that people who try to ‘prove’ the existence of God as one would prove the existence of something material are doomed to failure. Likewise, I have not met any convincing atheists.

Sometimes, like Kenny, they will say something like ‘If God should appear to me I’ll give him 110% of my attention.’ Others say, ‘Show me your God and I’ll believe.’ That seems plausible enough. However, we might challenge them, ‘First show me your self.’

God is not to be ‘proved’ in that way. God is not a problem to be solved. But he can be known with certainty – to a certain point.

There used to be an attitude in the Church that anyone who did not accept Jesus as the Son of God was evil, or stubbornly rejecting of God, and therefore to be blamed, even ‘punished’. This attitude has almost gone. Today we recognise the freedom of each person to accept or reject God and we do not cause disputes over the non belief of others because we now understand that faith, Christian faith, is a gift freely given and to be freely received. It cannot be forced on anyone.

A Moslem family in the hospital where I worked once told me about their faith. They said, ‘Allah revealed to Mohammed the truth of the Qu’ran and Mohammed wrote it down and it must be accepted.’

I replied ‘So this is what you believe?’ They answered emphatically, ‘No, it is true!’

I find this a very dangerous attitude. Christians say, ‘This is our faith, we believe it to be true, and we are ready to die for it. But you are free to deny it.’

It seems to me that in order to believe in God we must first believe in the world of the spirit, the invisible. We must believe that reality does not finish at the ‘knowable’ or the ‘measurable’. We need to believe that reality also continues beyond what we can see and hear.

We know that order rules the universe and that ‘order’ therefore has a source. We know that something cannot come from nothing and so we believe in a creator. We know also that deep within every human there is a longing for completion and perfection, a longing for perfect peace, perfect joy, eternal life and most of humanity believes that there is One who means to fulfil this longing.

We call this being God. We are ‘pointed’, ‘oriented’ to the beyond by this hope within us and either it is a cruel trick of evolution, or the good gift of a good God, which he means one day to satisfy. Most humans, therefore, look at the world around them and say ‘God’. A few look at the world around them and say ‘accident’.

All this is not a matter for argument. Those who believe must remain humble and grateful because the moment a person believes in God everything in life is suddenly different.

We can know with certainty that there is a God who created this world and we can know certain things about this God. He is all-powerful, he is eternal, he is all-knowing. But there is a point beyond which we cannot go.

To reject the existence of God is to reject an essential quality of being human.

When we come to believe we begin a journey of searching for God – ‘Who are you? Show yourself to me, I want to know you.’

This quest would be doomed to failure if God had not also said, on his part, ‘I want you to know me, I will show myself to you.’

We Christians believe that God has shown himself to mankind. We believe he has revealed to us how the world was made and why it was made. We believe God has revealed to us the meaning of our lives, that he has created us to be happy with him, already here on earth, and to share eternal happiness with him in heaven. This is, we believe, our ultimate destiny.

We believe that God’s greatest and final revelation is made in Jesus Christ, who is man, and also God. That Jesus is the face of the invisible God.

Listen again to the Entrance Antiphon: Let all the earth cry out to God with joy; praise the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise, alleluia.

1 comment:

Delima said...

I wish everyone had access to this homily and would absorb its wisdom and clear teachings! Thanks, once again.