Joke (an oldie):
When Sister Marlena entered the Monastery of Silence, the Abbess said,
Sister, you have taken a vow of silence. You are welcome here as long as you like, but you are not to speak unless I direct you to do so.
Five years later, the Abbess said to her,
Sister Marlena, you have been here for five years, you can speak two words.
The nun looked at her superior and said,
The Abbess said,
I’m sorry to hear about that, we will get you a better bed.
After another five years, the Abbess called Sister Marlena into her office.
You may say another two words, Sister.
The nun said,
The Abbess assured her Sister Marlena that the food would be hotter in the future.
On her 15th anniversary at the monastery, Sister Marlena was again told by the Abbess,
You may say another two words today, Sister.
said Sister Marlena.
It’s probably for the best,
sighed the Abbess.
You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here.
This weekend’s readings have to do with having faith. The gift of faith requires our active cooperation. Mark Twain once said,
When people are asked about whether or not they have faith, we often hear them ask questions such as: How can God allow…………? Or, What difference does it really make anyway? Or, Why should we believe anything they say? Or, comments like: I’m more spiritual than religious, and God is ok with that, because God loves me unconditionally. Or, You can be a good person, even if you don’t have faith.
When I have had the privilege of doing marriage preparation for an engaged couple preparing to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, I have always asked the Catholics where they would find a crucifix in their parent’s home when they were growing up. More than 80% answer the way I thought they would. They answered, “In the parent’s bedroom, over their bed.” The bedroom has to be seen as sacred or holy. It is where a couple will spend most of their married life together, to communicate, to express worry or concern for others, to pray, to find intimacy and sexual human love, to conceive their children, to rest, to sleep, and possibly if they get to die at home, then they will receive the Sacrament of Last Rites in that same sacred space, where the priest will take the crucifix down and separate the body of Jesus from the cross (to everyone’s surprise), and inside will find candles and possibly holy water.
I share this with you, to try to let you know that you are not born with the gift of faith, nor do you somehow earn it, but rather, you receive it from God as a gift. To be spiritual without putting into practice our religion, is like wanting to have muscles without working out or working hard. Religion challenges us to look beyond ourselves, and taking a closer look for opening the possibility for a daily conversion, to come closer to Jesus. How can I be a bearer of faith to others? How can I be more aware of the faith that God has given me? Possibly, we’re just to be people who plant the small seeds of faith by our kind words, charitable actions, or even in our willingness to talk about the Holy Scriptures to others. To plant the seed. To allow God to do the rest.
We all are given that choice — to complain like Sister Marlene, or to doubt like St. Thomas first did, or to forth like the Apostles into the unknown, filled with the Holy Spirit and do simple actions and give hope with kind words. How could someone rise from the dead? How could that human being actually be God himself? How is the message of the Risen Christ a message of repentance, forgiveness, and love?
So, the message is for us to keep things simple. To be a disciple and allow God to give us the faith that is needed in our life. In this time of worry, fear, and anxiety with the Coronavirus and the effects it has had on our world, let us trust in God and allow our faith to make a difference.