Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Homily Third Sunday of Lent Cycle B March 8, 2015

In our second reading today from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul addresses the fundamental issue of “¿why believe in Jesus Christ?”   St. Paul tells us “Jews demand signs” – i.e. miracles.  They want things that are out of the ordinary, amazing signs and wonders – something bold, attention getting, unusual and fascinating.  All of us are intrigued by that. 
          And Greeks look for wisdom – that is, logical analysis, compelling intellectual arguments, syllogisms that lead logically and inexorably to belief.  We want a belief that is clear, comprehensible, easy to understand. 
          Both of these types - Jews demanding signs and Greeks looking for wisdom – are still with us today.  Indeed, we are them!  There are parts of this approach to faith based on wonders or understanding in each of us.  
          But we don’t get that, at least not completely.  We don’t get convinced in our faith by signs and miracles nor convinced by air-tight logical arguments.    Jesus remains “a stumbling block for Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”    And that means for us too.
          Rather, St. Paul says “but we proclaim Christ crucified.” 
Are we proclaiming just the basic fact that Jesus is dead?  That He was executed as a criminal?  Why do we have the representation of an executed criminal hanging in the front of our church?  What is it about this dead man, this corpse, that we find so compelling? 
          St. Paul today tells us: “to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike,
Christ (is) the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
          What kind of wisdom and power is this?   It is the power and the wisdom of love.  Because Christ crucified is the absolute sign of self-giving love.   And love is what God does.  God loves.  In the face of injustice, in the face of betrayal, in the face of cowardice, in the face of torture, in the face of death, God loves.  And Christ crucified is the full and complete sign of that love. 
          When wonders cease to impress and logic falls flat, love still is strong and true.
Sometimes, love hurts.  And even in the midst of hurt, God still loves.
What the crucifix presents us with is God’s Wisdom and God’s Power in the face of human wisdom and human power.   It is the wisdom of loving obedience to the Father, no matter what the cost.   It is the power of “One who has chosen loving solidarity unto death with us to free us from all fear and bring us into the “liberty of the children of God.”

          “For” proclaims St. Paul, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom,
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”

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