I heard a story about two nuns who were shopping at Trader Joe's in Austin, Texas on a 100 degree plus day. As they passed the beer cooler, one nun said, “Wouldn’t a cool beer be a delight on a hot evening?” The second nun answered, “Yes, but I wouldn't feel comfortable buying beer, as the cashier probably would recognize us.” The other nun replied, “Don't worry, let me handle this,” and she picked up a six-pack.
The cashier had a surprised look on his face when the two nuns approached. “We use beer for washing our hair” the nun said; “We call it catholic shampoo.” The cashier put a bag of pretzels in the bag with the beer, smiled, and said: “The curlers are on the house.” You can't fool some folks.
The pyramids in Egypt are a wonder of the ancient world. Some of you may know the name Howard Carter, a British archaeologist. For more than two millenia, scientists, tourists, and grave robbers had searched for the burial places of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Others gave up, Carter pressed on. In 1922 he unlocked the world’s most exciting archaeological find: a king’s embalmed body within a nest of three coffins, the inner one of solid gold. On the king’s head was a magnificent golden portrait mask, and numerous pieces of jewelry were on the body and in its wrappings. Other rooms were crammed with statues, a chariot, weapons, chests, vases, jewels and a throne. It was the priceless tomb and treasure of King Tutankhamen who reigned from 1352 to 1343 BC. Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb because he persevered.
I believe God will reveal himself to us if we seek him, if we persevere. Today's word of God, from one viewpoint, is about persistence, seeking and finding God.
The passage from the Acts of the Apostles is about Peter, who denied he had been with Jesus, denied he was one of his disciples, even denied he knew Jesus. But Peter suddenly realized what he did and wept bitterly. He begged forgiveness. Later Jesus asked Peter three times, “do you love me?” and three times Peter undid his triple denial, saying “You know I love you.” Peter had fallen badly, but God lifted Peter up. Despite our own falls, God continually lifts us up so that we can live a life worthy of our baptismal calling as sons and daughters of God our Father. God repeatedly empowers us to persevere in becoming our true self, the “likeness of God.”
In today's passage, a repentant Peter, on fire with the Spirit, fearlessly proclaims that Jesus the Nazarene is risen. Jesus lives and so too do we live. That is the Easter message.
The letter of Peter explores the perishable and the imperishable things of life. Peter contends that perishable stuff like silver or gold didn’t free us from death or nothingness. No! The imperishable blood of Jesus, the lamb of God, freed us from death so that we can be in relationship with God forever.
And so with the eyes of faith fixed on this imperishable prize, Jesus challenges us live a life worthy of our baptismal calling. Never give up our calling! Persevere!
The author of the Lukan Gospel describes two disciples on their way to Emmaus who initially didn’t recognize Jesus even as they were walking and talking with him. These disciples presumably knew Jesus and probably believed that he was a “prophet mighty in deed and word.” But now they’re disheartened, perhaps even disillusioned, as they walked. And they probably were confused; they heard rumors that Jesus is alive. Is he or isn’t he? Eventually in the “breaking of the bread” (a phrase for the Eucharist) they recognize with their eyes of faith the transfigured reality of Jesus Christ. They were seeking God and found him in the “breaking of the bread.”
I like to think that God reveals himself to us if we persistently seek him. Yes, we seek God in prayer, and especially in the Mass. But we should also seek God's wisdom in the bible; seek his Spirit in trying to do the right thing; and seek God's presence in our daily routine.
Yes, seek God's wisdom in the prayerful reading of the bible, a privileged expression of our faith. God is the author in that it highlights what God wants us to know about himself, his relationship with the universe, and his purpose for us. The bible is about religious, not scientific truths. The many biblical authors communicated these religious truths through the languages, images and literary forms with which they were familiar. At the heart of the bible is the Christian belief that Jesus, the incarnate Word of God, entered into our history so that we could become “like God.” Jesus Christ is our way into the future, our truth who exemplifies our true self, and our life in and through and with whom we breathe and live. Yes, we open the bible to hear from God about the baffling questions of life: who really am I? What is the purpose of my life? How should I live? Why evil?
Seeking God requires discipline and patience. That's why we pray for the grace to seek God daily, to wait patiently and to listen to God.
Second, seek God's Spirit persistently. Jesus encourages us to pray. He explains the importance of persistence in our relationship with God. Keep on asking...keep on seeking...keep on knocking... For everyone who asks receives; and they who seek find; and to those who keep knocking, the door shall be opened. Isn't that what Luke, Chapter 11, verses 9 onward is all about? Yes, we may have doubts about this. We may even wonder, if I ask will I receive?
We may find it difficult to believe that God would give us anything, let alone something as wonderful as his Spirit and the gifts of his Spirit, e. g., wisdom to know what truly matters, knowledge and understanding to delve into the mysteries of God and the truths of our faith, courage to stand up for what's right, and so forth. Remember, Jesus emphasizes, “how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:13) Obviously, we should seek the right things. But the point is this: never give up seeking God, his kingdom, his grace and his Spirit.
Finally, seek God's presence enthusiastically in our daily routine.
We live in a world that thinks the only thing that matters is how we relate to other people. How we relate to others is tremendously important and is the subject of seven out of the ten commandments. However, our relationship with God is the most important aspect of life. It is out of this relationship that our love for others should flow: our relationships in our family, then our relationship with others.
Like the search for the Egyptian tombs, we have to be persistent in the pursuit of our ultimate purpose in life. Seek God daily, persistently and enthusiastically as the disciples did and we will find God in all his fullness, and his life—divine life-- will transform us into new creatures in the way we love and serve one another. And even if we fall or stumble, if we seek God, he will lift us up, as God lifted up Peter, so that we can discover and enjoy our true treasure, God and the things of God.