Monday, May 21, 2012

would Jesus cheer for I'll have another?

This weekend coming out of mass a woman said "I hope your horse wins!" I wasn't sure if I liked the phrase but I got a good laugh. We both got a good laugh. So, would Jesus cheer for "I'll have another" in a race against "Rousing sermon?" Apparently the two are supposed to meet in the Belmont Stakes June 9th. My guees is that Jesus would cheer for both. The Catholic approach to faith is not either/or it is both/and. This unnerves some people who can't live with the diversity of worship and traditions. We are not saved by faith or works we are saved by both. We don't view scripture as opposed to tradition we view them both as a harmonious whole. In contrast to the joy-less Christianity that St Teresa of Avila bemoaned we must boldly put forward the true face of Jesus. A Jesus that is fully human and fully God. And, I might add, a God that is playful. Playful? Isn't that sacreligious? Nope. Psalm 2:4 says: "The one enthroned in heaven laughs." Laughs? yep. Friends have told me wonderful stories about the outdoors. One friend was in a tree stand when he saw three young raccoons climb a small tree (it was more like a shoot). As the first one got to the top of the shoot the tree began to droop. Eventually it arced over until the first one got off, leaving the other two stranded. The tree then stood up and flung the other two yards away. Another friend tells the story about sitting in a tree stand when he saw a group of turkeys approaching. The turkeys didn't know he was there. They flew up into the trees nearby and one was apparently a little heavy and broke the branch. There was quite a commotion. Things then quieted down and my friend slowly began to descend. All of a sudden, as if they were speaking to one another, the turkeys started gobbling. "Heh, who picked this place", "I didn't pick it did you?" "How come you didn't notice that human?" He said it was like something out of a Far Side cartoon. Where did this playfulness come from? I used to see ducks try to land on the pond only to find that the top layer was should have seen them skidding across the top! They would often get close to the waterfall and sometimes would slide over and have to fly back up. Then there were the otters joyfully jumping in and off of the ice flows and back into the water. Here are the words of John Eldredge author of Outlaw who asks the question: "Is Jesus really playful?": "I was sitting out back yesterday morning sipping coffee, watching the young chipmunks chase one another at breakneck speeds across the deck. One clever daredevil, hoping to get the advantage, jumped up on the fence rail and continued the chase from above, leaping at the last moment upon his littermate like a Hollywood stuntman. This morning one of them adopted a new strategy. The little rascal found an ambush spot, clinging from the side of the house, where he waited for his playmate to wander by unawares; he then pounced, and the two somersaulted off the deck and into the grass, squealing. Only to dash off and do it again. And again. Now-what does this tell us about the personality of Jesus, created these little dynamos with striped masks and boundless enthusiasm? What do they say about his heart? Polar-bear cubs will hurl themselves down snowy hillsides headfirst and upside-down, just for fun. Spinner dolphins love to romp in the bow-wake of a boat, cavorting, leaping into the air and, well, spinning. Otters play tag. Our horses play tug of war with a stick-which is really quite funny when you think of how nobly a horse likes to carry himself. Who gave your puppy his impishness, as he snatches your slipper and races around the house with you in tow? God is more playful than we are." Jesus' first miracle was to change water into wine. Six stone water jars each containing 20-30 gallons of water suddenly became wine. And I am sure not just any wine. Apparently Jesus served the best wine last! Here is another great excerpt from Eldredge's book: "Last Christmas a friend sent me a gift; it was a coffee mug with a classic picture of Jesus on it, and below the famous line 'Jesus saves.' When you pour hot drinks into the mug, the imagery changes-Christ no longer has a beard, and the expression says, 'Jesus shaves.' My son Luke asked me hesitantly, 'what do you think Jesus thinks about that?' Let me ask you, my reader-what do you think? Remove Jesus from the equation for the moment-how do you feel about people who must always be serious, who deemand that everyone around them always be serious? And what about sour types who can never, ever tolerate a playful tease? Can Jesus enjoy a joke at his own expense? If not, what kind of person is he? I told Luke, 'I think he thinks it's hysterical. But we have to hide the mug when certain members of our church stop by. Laughter is from God. This one quality alone might save us from the religious veil that forever tries to come in and cloud our perception of Jesus. Keep in mind now-Isaac means laughter. And who was it that gave him this unforgettable name? It was the Lord." Meister Eckhardt says that you and I were created out of the laughter of the Trinity. I think it is pretty fair to say Jesus would love the story of "I'll have another." When no one else wanted him as a 1 yr old he was purchased at auction for $11,000. He has now won the first two crowns of the Triple Crown. In fact his story and the way in which he has come from behind in both wins is truly, I believe, "a rousing sermon." Many people reject the Lord and reject the faith because of the religiosity of believers. Times haven't changed. It was the professional religious, the Scribes and Pharisees, who persecuted Jesus and put him on a cross. Even the strictest religious order, the Carthusians, know the importance of relaxation, fellowship and laughter. The great silence in their monastery is broken on Sundays and the monks are free to speak and take a walk outside. St Bruno commented that if too much pressure is put on a stick it will bend at first, but eventually it will snap. So it is with us. This weekend I shared the story of Frank Llod Wright at mass. One day he and his uncle were walking through a snow covered field. They were headed to a house. But along the way Frank veered off and stopped by a barn to see the animals. Then he went over to a pond and took a look at that. Then he saw a fort off in the distance. He went out of his way to see that. When he finally caught up to his uncle across the snow covered field,his uncle said, "Now Frank. I want to teach you a lesson. Look back at our footsteps in the snow. Mine came straight here. I never ventured off and I arrived here much quicker than you. But Frank, look at yours. You zig-zagged all over the place and wasted so much time stopping all along the way." Frank Llod Wright said that was one of the best lessons he ever learned. But he took it in just the opposite way from what his uncle intended. His philosophy was, " I still arrived at the same destination, but I enjoyed all the sights along the way." Take time to enjoy the "joy on the journey." Laugh. Play. We give God glory when we do so. Would he cheer for "I'll have another?" You betcha!

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