One of my favorite fruits is grapefruit. And I love those little spoons with the jagged edge that enable you to scrape out every bit of the fruit itself. You know, in between each section of the fruit there are these thin but tough separators from one section to the other. So the jagged edge spoon helps me scrape out as much pulp as possible and get around those separators and the pits.
Life is like a grapefruit, so thoroughly enjoyable, a bit sour, and messing getting through it with the pits and all. So, in order to get through life and taste life with joy, we have to learn how to deal with life’s difficulties. You know the difficulties: life’s bumps and lumps, broken relationships, frustration with those we love, facing our own faults, and of course, wanting somehow that things be better than they are. We keep digging in to life, even if we have to deal with the pits, the seeds of our discontent.
Many are inclined to look for remedies by watching talk shows, reading self-help books, or seeking something like a new fad that others rave about, something to help us cope with life, chase away our sorrows and find a way to be happy. The problem is that some easy, canned solutions to life’s problems never seem to work. But we keep wanting a simple idea or some simple practice we can use, something which is easy to swallow.
Our liturgy today invites us to pray even as we deal with the pits and seeds of our discontent. We are invited into the Pascal Mystery of Jesus Christ who alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life, who alone can show us how to live life to the full. Let’s look at what these Scriptures teach us about life in Christ.
In our first reading from Exodus we see that God gave Moses, and Moses gave to the people the Torah, the Law, that expresses the covenant, the relationship with God, with all of its blessings promised, and all of the ramifications laid out if the Israelites should choose to abandon the ways of God. In this reading we hear the response of Moses to the people’s desire that they never again have a direct contact with God as they did at Mt. Sinai when they had become overwhelmed at the raging fire and thundering presence of God. They ask Moses to be a mediator, to stand between them and the terrifying experience of being in direct contact with the Almighty. The people told Moses, 'Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.' God agrees to this request, even though it means that people might often think that God does not answer them, or even hear them when they are in need. They must now rely on a mediator, a prophet, someone who will hear from God and will communicate to the people all that the prophet hears from God.
Moses makes clear to the people then, and to us today, that if we do not listen to truly prophetic words, to words that God will put in the prophet’s mouth, then, God says, “Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.”
But a question remains: how will the people know if the prophet, the one presuming to speak on God’s behalf, is instead speaking out from his own thoughts, and not God’s? In today’s world, what voices are there out there that are truly from God? Or, what voices are of a deceiving spirit? How can we distinguish which voices out there are from false gods? The false gods are all around us, leading many to go after everything but our Judaeo-Christian heritage. And these voices are very persuasive, making those of us who want to be faithful to God feel estranged from the world we live is.
In the Gospel we see Jesus who is the fulfillment of Moses’s prophecy that One would come along who must be listened to. In fact, Jesus is God himself in the flesh, so that every word he speaks is full of grace and truth. That’s why we follow him and and why we are called by his name: Christians.
In the Gospel it was an evil spirit in a tormented man whose madness made the truth of who Jesus really is look ridiculous. That’s why Jesus says, “Quiet! Come out of him!” This is not madness. It is the truth. In our own day, fidelity to Jesus is looked upon as ridiculous, but such a spirit is not from God. It is the spirit of madness. And the test for us to know if we are following the way of madness or the spirit of God, is that are faithful to Christ and abide in his peace.
This is Catholic Schools Week when re collectively reflect of the Call the Lord has given us to provide a Catholic education to as many young people as possible. Why do we do this?
The reason Catholic schools exist is to help us keep grounded in Jesus, that Jesus is the one who is our reference for all the issues and struggles of our time. He alone is the One who can lead us to peace. He alone is the voice to be listened to. He alone can show us around the seed of discontent in our lives; and He alone can give us the delightful taste of how to live in His peace.