Did you hear about the lady who is driving and is stopped by a red light? Hers is the second car. The light turns green, but the car in front of her doesn’t move. The driver is texting. Suddenly the first driver notices the green light and pulls out. But not in time. The light turns red and she can’t move. The lady lowers he window, gives an obscene gesture and yells out a few cuss words.
Behind her is a cop car. His lights go on and he motions for her to pull over. The cop goes up the car, and places her under arrest. Then he tells her to wait while he checks his computer. In a few minutes, he comes back, apologizes, and says she can go. She asks, “What’s going on.
“Well, Ma’am,” the cop says, “I saw the bumper stickers on your car that read, ‘Honk if you love Jesus,’ and ‘Pray for peace.’ And I saw the rosary dangling from the rear view mirror. Than I saw your behavior. And I figured you stole the car.”
Twice in today’s gospel John the Baptist says, “I did not know him.” “I did not know him.” In St. John’s gospel, Chapter 14, the apostle Philip says to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” And Jesus responds, “Philip, how long have I been with you and still you do not know me?” (Cf. John 14:8-9) We are challenged to ask ourselves, “How well do we know the Lord Jesus?”
And why is this important? At the Last Supper, in his prayer to the Father, Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3). This is eternal life…
Last week I talked about knowing Jesus and his example of courage, commitment and love. This week I want to reflect on how we know him through suffering, and through fun.
1) Suffering. In the Acts of the Apostles we read how Saul (later Paul) was knocked to the ground and heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts of the Apostles, 9:4) This alerted Paul to the fact that Jesus identifies himself with his people in pain. We can come to know the Lord Jesus through his Passion going on today, that is, through the sufferings of others as well as our own.
This means, when we encounter the poor, we come to know Jesus, born in a stable.
When we encounter those who are insulted and bullied.
we come to know Jesus, mocked and crowned with thorns.
When we encounter the heartbroken, we come to know Jesus, abandoned by his friends on Calvary.
When we encounter those who sacrifice their lives out of love for others, we come to know Jesus, who gave up his life for us. The “Lamb of God.”
We come to know Jesus when we are poor, bullied, abandoned by friends, and when we ourselves sacrifice for others.
At the Last Supper, Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body given up for you.” He took wine and said, “This is my blood poured out for you.” Then he said, “Do this in memory of me.” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 11: 24-25) Do what in memory of him? We are to give up our bodies and pour out our blood in unselfish service. Then we will know the Lord, Jesus.
2) Secondly, fun. One counselor had this advice. If a husband and wife are having difficulties in their marriage, they should drop everything, and go out and ride a roller coaster together. In other words, play, have fun together. Fun heals.
Imagine soldiers out in a battlefield exchanging gunfire. But suddenly both sides run out of bullets. Instead of someone sending in more ammunition, someone airdrops Frisbees. And the soldiers on both sides start throwing Frisbees back and forth with each other. By the time ammunition arrives, they are not interested. They want to continue having fun.
In the American Heritage Dictionary, one of the definitions of love is, “to delight.” We read in Psalm 149:4 that, “The Lord takes delight in his people.” “To take delight” brings to my mind the many grade school events that I have attended over the years. For instance, when the children put on a talent show and are on the stage singing, dancing and telling jokes, the parents and grandparents in the audience are smiling, taking delight in their children.
When our school holds an “Open House” with many of the children’s work on display in the classrooms, I see the parents and grandparents looking over the displays, grinning, taking delight in their children.
Each year I dress in costume on Halloween. I join in the fun with our school children. In Sierra Madre, where I live, they block off the main street in town, so the children can go “trick or treating” to the merchants. I not only delight in seeing the children at their silly best, I delight in seeing the teachers and parents taking pride in their children, watching over them and enjoying them as they have fun. I understand how “the Lord takes delight in his people.”
When a teacher sees students doing well in class, when a coach sees a young athlete improving his or her skills, and when a father walks his daughter down the aisle, they experience how “the Lord takes delight in his people.”
There are six precepts in the Catholic Church. When I become pope, I will add a seventh: “Take time to enjoy one another.” This is the way to peace.
In taking delight in one another, we come to know that much more about God. In taking delight in one another, our hearts are beating in time with our Creator’s heart. As we read in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, God looked upon everything he made and found it, “very good.” (Cf. Genesis 1:31) Yes, he takes delight in us. We should do the same.