Faith: The Most Basic Vision
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Sirach 27:30 – 28:7
Recently a motor scooter rider and I got into a conversation about riding two wheels in a four wheel world. We shared stories of drivers looking right at us and then heading right for us. “I know I’m not safe until we make eye contact and nod to one another. They don’t expect us so we don’t register,” said the scooter rider. “It’s like they can’t see what they don’t believe will be there.”
That conversation came back to me when a friend, in the middle of a casual gathering, asked, “So; do you think God wanted Osama Bin Laden killed?” That released a storm of Bible quotes, Church teaching, moral aphorisms, ethical equations and warnings of dire consequences. Finally someone commented, “You have to live in the world the way it is. If you can’t deter bad guys, you have to kill them. That’s just reality.”
Living our faith, as opposed to simply accepting doctrines, is about deciding what is. It’s deciding what’s real and what isn’t. Choosing the faith that orients us is the most radical decision any of us ever makes. Subsequent decisions as to whether we believe in a God or not or whether we’ll subscribe to any particular religion are decisions about the framework of our faith. They’re not our faith.
Does life have a direction? Does life mean anything beyond a story we impose on it? Do our individual lives make a difference for good or ill in life’s future?
Ancient Jews believed that life had a direction; it was towards fulfillment. They were convinced that their lives made a difference in its progress. Jesus came along and some saw in him the embodiment of life’s meaning and direction. They saw him demonstrate a way of living that moved all life towards fulfillment. Jesus encapsulated and exemplified the promise of life for those who followed him. They named him the Word of God.
How do we advance life? Do we advance life by killing? Do we advance life by giving our own life rather than taking another’s? It’s a stark choice between visions of reality. It all depends on our vision – our vision of what’s real.