Pastor’s Corner 8/19/2012

Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord

For the last three Sundays and since we heard about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, we have heard repeatedly from Jesus himself about “The Bread of Life.” One homilist observed that we have heard it so many times, it is as if Jesus is shouting out, “Can you hear me now?” But this Sunday we receive an invitation along with the gospel message to “taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”

Normally, I would take this opportunity to present and bring home once again my favorite theme: “The Holy Eucharist—The most Perfect Thing I know.” However, another thought keeps coming back to me these days: the practice of and the belonging to a religion. Jesus’ flesh and blood—real food and drink—are at the very core of OUR religion. That is why a feeling of uneasiness came over me when, during the concluding ceremonies and concert of the Olympics in London a video of the late John Lennon singing his famed song, Imagine, was played and viewed from a jumbo screen. In particular, the lyrics “Imagine there’s no heaven…and no religion too” made me uneasy—sort of disquieted. This song was being sung in the presence of tens of thousands—never mind the millions of records that have been sold over time. I wondered, how and to what extent our youth and young adults are beginning to wonder in a more troubling way whether God’s heaven exists and if belonging to a religion really matters.

Yes indeed, imagine there’s no heaven. When I try to imagine that there is no heaven, my imagination is simply taken over by the image of so many of our parishioners who are grieving the loss of loved ones. For me to imagine “no heaven” is like trying to imagine that there is also no redemption, no profound meaning to life now, and no evolution of the human spirit into God’s own Spirit. And imagine there’s no religion? Well, when I see that even wars are started and fought over religion, I am tempted to imagine the erasure of religion. I can’t blame youth and young adults who question the value of religion since its continuance could affect their futures and the wellbeing and security and of their children and families. But when I think of religion as the practical way faith is lived, hope is given (even in the face of death!), and profound meaning is given to the dignity of every human being from natural conception to natural death—then “no religion” would include the elimination of the very glue that holds humanity together and the elimination of that which could offer the possibility of global peace.

The very recognition of “the great religions of the world” is testimony that all humanity has sought and continues to seek the answers to the great questions: “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” and “Where are we going?” I would suggest that while we are imagining no heaven and no religion, we should also imagine US—you and I—without it. Yes, I know the obvious—I would be out of a job—but you and I would also be required to simply stop asking the great questions. I don’t know about you, but for me it just “Ain’t gonna happen.” So this Sunday and always, TASTE AND SEE THE GOODNESS OF THE LORD! Our Holy Eucharist—OUR HOLY COMMUNION—is our faith, and our religion is the way we live it. Yes there are so many claims on religious belief, but we believe in the one who declared, “Seek and you will find…just maybe not all of humanity all at once.

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