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CRISIS OF FAITH

THE WOLF AND THE LAMB
May 4, 2020
THE MISSION
May 6, 2020

Homily for Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter 05 May 2020, John 10:22-30

 

The title of this homily is CRISIS OF FAITH. No, I am not talking about faith in God. I am talking, rather, about faith in humanity, as the more serious crisis.
Yesterday, somebody passed on to me the TED lecture of a 99 year old survivor of the holocaust in Germany. The old man shared about the cruelties that he had to go through from the time that he was arrested, and how their house was burned down by the Nazi soldiers when they found out that he was a Jew. He was only 11 years old. He was home alone, in the company of his dog who was brutally murdered right in front of him because the dog tried to protect him.
For a while he said he thought he had lost faith in humanity. He survived the concentration camps but considered himself a broken and a very unhappy man after that. He kept to himself and refused to even talk about the brutalities that remained very vivid in his memory. He said he would have remained bitter all his life if he had not fallen in love with a woman named Flore, whom he married and who gave her a son, whom he named Michael. It was love, he said, and the sight of this child, that made him smile and dream again. It was then that he realized that the nightmare that he had been through had not succeeded in destroying his humanity, and his faith in it, after all. He said that as he held his child in his arms, he saw in him a whole new vision of a better world. What renewed his faith in humanity, he said, was a basic desire to make just one human being happy and deserving of all his love and the right to live a dignified life.
From then on, he began to speak about human goodness, and what it takes to prevent that basic goodness from being destroyed. He said, “Despite all the cruelties that I experienced, I do not hate anybody. Hate”, he said, “is a disease which may destroy your enemy but will also destroy you in the process.”
His lecture suddenly reminded me of one of the best videos I’ve ever seen about the Covid pandemic, set, not in the present but in the future, looking back to 2020 and retelling it to his son as a bedtime story from a little book entitled THE GREAT REALIZATION. Please take a little time to watch it now.
If I had done that video myself, I would probably have entitled it THE GREAT AWAKENING, instead of REALIZATION. He makes us imagine ourselves looking back to 2020 perhaps a century from now, and tells how a virus had awakened humanity from its deep slumber or stupor.
Today’s Gospel is about Jesus and his difficulty with his fellow Jews who are looking for a Messiah and are unable to see him despite all that he is doing. Their real problem is they cannot imagine him looking human like any of them. In short, their real crisis is they’ve lost faith, not in God, but in humanity.
Isn’t it ironic that, to save humanity, God had to assume a human form? It is by becoming truly human himself that God restores humankind’s faith in the basic goodness of our humanity.
There are many instances when we feel a profound need for God and we even resent his apparent absence. But have we ever considered that, if we need God, God needs us too, in order to be present with us? Look, in order to redeem us, He decided, first of all, to become one of us! He took on our human form in Jesus of Nazareth. It is in amazement that we often confess our faith in God, but shouldn’t we be equally amazed about God’s faith in our humanity?
The more I study the Bible, the more I realize that Judaism also shares in the loss of faith in humanity. That is why we associate humanity with sinfulness, with being “fallen”. But Christianity would change all of this. It would embrace the narrative of our being fallen, but would twist it in order to give it an altogether new meaning, a positive one. Falling like seed that is buried on the ground in order to rise again and bear much fruit. (John 12:24)
This is what I find most beautiful about our Christian faith. God does not save us from a vacuum. He did not feed the five thousand from nothing. He needed the generosity of the poor boy who offered his five loaves and two fish. He didn’t just raise the paralytic from his mat. He needed the friends to bring him to his presence, even if it they had to climb the roof and make a hole in it. He didn’t just convert humanity with a wave of a hand. He needed ordinary people like Peter and Paul, James and John, Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany, to witness to him.
His raw material for his new creation is still our humanity, the same humanity but this time recreated, fallen but raised up again, awakened from slumber, humanity now given its best form in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, who invites us also to have faith in our humanity and take part in restoring it to its proper dignity. May we indeed look back at 2020 many years from now and tell the next generation how a crisis reawakened in us our faith in humanity. (See links: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=scCvi3vY4jQ, https://m.youtube.com/playlist…)

 

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