Posted by: Fr Chris | March 8, 2019

1st Friday of Lent, 2019

My first dog was a spaniel named Princess. Soon after I got her, I came home to discover that she had unrolled an entire toilet paper roll through the entire house. As soon as she saw me, she put her head down, covered it with a paw and rolled over. She had more sense of responsibility and guilt than those two in Genesis tonight.

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Adam blames God: you gave her to me. Eve blames the serpent: he tricked me. Neither says, I’m sorry, I know what I did was wrong. Neither one takes responsibility for their actions. That is the core of sin: avoiding responsibility and ignoring the effects of what I have done wrong.  Sin upends the original plan of God’s creation. The rib God used to make Eve, according to Jewish midrash, is the one closest to Adam’s heart. Adam and Eve, Man and Woman, are complementary to each other, they complete each other, they are made to be together. Original sin messed that up, and so we have damaged people as a result. We were meant to walk with God here on earth – Genesis 3 makes that very clear, as God comes to walk in the garden in the cool of the evening; after Original Sin that connection is broken.

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Lent is the opportunity to open ourselves up to God’s grace in a different way. We are walking with Christ in the last weeks of His life on earth. In the Byzantine tradition, we are reading from Genesis and Proverbs at night, and Isaiah during the day. In all of these, we hear about God’s Wisdom, God’s Love for wandering humanity, and the history of our salvation. God did not abandon humanity after the Original Sin was created. The Holy Spirit raised up prophets to speak God’s Wisdom to the nations, but even God’s Chosen People went astray over and over again. And we are not ones to brag: the current mess in the Catholic Church of bishops who willfully protected the institution rather than their people is a classic sign of going astray.

What is happening now today in the Church is a result of men who refused to take full responsiblity for protecting souls, and it is still happening around the world. It happened in a terrible way 1,000 years ago, and it is back, and both times it is due to a failure to be honest about the damage being done to souls.  There have been bad bishops before: Judas Iscariot walked away from the Last Supper with the Body of Christ in him and accomplished his betrayal of Jesus. But the apostles replaced him with Saint Mathias.

Sinners can become saints: Judas did not try. We do try. That is why we are here tonight, to walk with Jesus despite our imperfections and difficulties, to walk with Him holding on to His pierced hand. To put our fingers into the wound of His side from which flowed blood and water from His pierced heart. That blood and water represents Baptism and  Eucharist, the two foundational sacraments of the Faith. Christ remains with His wounded  Church, just as He remains with wounded sinners. Christ weeps over each sinners as do the angels in heaven. But Jesus tells us how much the angels rejoice when a sinner comes home, when the lost are found.

The Church faces an internal crisis, but it is not the end. We have had bad bishops, priests, nuns, laity, popes and patriarchs. Some patriarchs of Constantinople were  even heretics. But the Body of Christ, the Church, continued on its way. There have always been new prophets raised up by the Holy Spirit to lead everyone back on to the narrow road to heaven.  We are here to be transformed by grace, to be deified by grace, to experience theosis here and now. We are here to become saints, not to follow the latest new teaching from some self-appointed messiah or to flow with the latest goofy idea to come from the media. We are here to follow Jesus Christ, so that we can restore the original order of life: to walk with God. We must take hold of Jesus’ pierced hand, and walk with Him, and all will be well.

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  1. Thank you Fr Chris. You give us hope in this frightening world.

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