Choosing Barabbas

GiveUsBarabbas

Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed.  The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” – Matthew 27:20-21

There they are, side by side.  I can have either and the choice is mine.  Sure, I know good from evil (Genesis 3:22).  I know the “right” choice, but today I think I will choose Barabbas.  That’s who everyone else keeps shouting for.  Even the preacher said it!

“Barabbas!”

Why does that feel so wrong?  Why does it feel as though a piece of my soul just died?   Who is this man?

“Barabbas.”

This can’t be right.  I don’t even know this Barabbas.  What did this Jesus do?  Someone said that if he didn’t die that they would kill us all.  Don’t they know, we’re already dead.

“….”

“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34

Each day is a choice between Jesus and Barabbas.  Today you chose Barabbas.  There is tomorrow.

Never despair. Lazarus was dead and decaying: “iam foetet, quatriduanus set enim“–“by now he will smell; this is the fourth day,” Martha told Jesus.

If you hear the inspiration of God and follow it–“Lazare, vein foras!“–“Lazarus, come forth!”–you will return to life.

St. Josemaria Escriva – The Way #719 

Forge #968

fire handsOne thought leads to another…

Let this be your prayer, apostolic soul: Lord, may I know how to lean on people and get them all to burn like fires of Love, which will then become the driving force of all our undertakings.  – St. Josemaria Escriva, The Forge #968

Which reminds me of…

Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, ‘Abba as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?’ then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, ‘If you will, you can become all flame.’

How quietly we can sit and watch the clock tick.  How easy is it to say, “There is nothing to do.”  How casually the words, “I’m bored,” cross our lips.  Shame.  Erase these inactions and fruitless words from your soul.  There is a Gospel to proclaim through word and deed.  Get off your butt, step out the door, and set the world on fire!

Sermon: New Year’s Day

CHThe following quote was the inspiration behind this sermon, but – in the end – the quote did not make it into the sermon: “Pray that I may never be satisfied with what is easy,” you say.  I’ve already prayed.  Now it is up to you to carry out that fine resolution.   St. Josemaria Esciva, The Way #39

I’m also going to get a bit of mileage out of this one as it will appear as an article in the Billings Gazette on January 11th.

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Legend has it that one day Socrates and Plato were walking down the beach, deep in conversation and Plato had expressed to Socrates his desire to gain the wisdom and knowledge that Socrates had.  Socrates didn’t answer him, but instead said, “Walk with me into the ocean.”  So, they turned and walked into the sea together.

Now, in your imagination, picture that happening: Student and teacher, two of the greatest philosophers of history, striding into the surf side by side.

The water started out around their ankles, then rose up to their knees. As the water got higher Plato wondered to himself, “What is the lesson my master is trying to teach me?”

When the water was shoulder height, Socrates asked Plato, “What is it exactly you want from me?” “Knowledge,” Plato answered, at which point Socrates abruptly grabbed Plato’s head and pushed him down under the water. After a half a minute or so Socrates let Plato up and asked him again, “What is it you want?” “Knowledge,” was again Plato’s answer, at which point Socrates shoved him back down under the water.

After a time, when Plato ran out of air, he began to struggle to get his head above the surface. He punched and kicked and grabbed to get free, but Socrates was a strong man and held him down. At the last moment before Plato blacked out, Socrates let him up and asked that same simple question, “What is it you want?” Plato coughed and spluttered finally responding, “Air! I need air!” Socrates calmly stated, “When you desire knowledge as much as you desired a breath of air, then you shall have it.”

Each year, we make our New Year’s resolutions, but really, how seriously are we about fulfilling them? I suppose that Plato could have made a resolution, “Be it resolved that I will gain true knowledge this year,” but as Socrates so politely pointed out to him, resolving to do something is quite a bit more than simply saying you want it. Truthfully, it’s really not a matter of wanting, who doesn’t want to lose weight or be a better a person? Perhaps the question should be, “What are you willing to sacrifice?” In the case of Plato, in order to truly have knowledge, Socrates said that he had to want it as much as he wanted air to breathe, as much as he wanted life itself. So what are you willing to sacrifice in order to fulfill your resolutions?

And I wonder, if you make a resolution to live healthier, regularly balance the checkbook, quit swearing and all that, have you ever made a resolution to God?  “Be it resolved that I will love the Lord my God more deeply.”  “Be it resolved that my life will be a witness to His love.”  “Be it resolved that I will work to fulfill my Baptismal Covenant.”  “Be it resolved that I will accept His forgiveness.” And if you make these resolutions to God, then how badly do you want them? What are you willing to sacrifice of yourself in order to fulfill them?

I resolve to love God as long as it’s convenient?  As long as it doesn’t really cost me anything?  I resolve to forgive others as I have been forgiven, except… except you know who!  I will seek to serve Christ in all persons, as long as they are like me.  I resolve to faithfully continue in the fellowship and the breaking of bread, as long as it fits in with my schedule. Or do you want these things as much as you want air to breathe? As much as you desire your very life?

You’ve made your resolutions to lose weight and all that, now make your resolutions to God and desire to fulfill them as much as you desire air to breathe? As much as Jesus desires you.

Furrow #429

josemaria-escriva

429: You have to learn to disagree charitably with others–whenever the need arises–without becoming unpleasant.  “Furrow” – St. Josemaria Escriva

Upon reading this, I immediately remembered The Rt. Rev. Jake Owensby’s piece on the topic:

The philosophers who inspired the Founding Fathers foresaw the threat that the majority could act in tyrannical ways.  Accordingly, our political forebears inscribed in our founding documents safeguards against the tyranny of the majority.

In addition to majority rule, democracy requires a loyal, gracious, and constructive minority.  Those of us in a minority are called to make a positive contribution to the solutions to the problems of the day in keeping with the will of the majority without sacrificing our integrity and our commitment to the truth.

Being a loyal, constructive minority is a difficult balancing act.  Politicians of the left and the right have served as poor models for this over the past decade or so.  Most of their energies have been devoted to devising strategies to gain majority status.  In other words, they exert their energies toward gaining power instead of finding ways to wield that power in service to the common good.

In the midst of it all, there is a severe lack of charity toward one another.  We do not simply disagree with one another, but find it necessary to attack in the harshest of terms.  Instead of simply disagreeing, we must put the foul-mouthed-idiotic-fascist-git in their proper place, which is without question somewhere beneath Dante’s ninth level of hell.  We forget that the person we have so denigrated was also – like us – created in the image of God.  We may disagree, but in the process we should demonstrate a little grace, charity, and if nothing else – class.