Meditation for Friday of the 3rd Week of Lent


First Reading: Hosea 14:2-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 81:6-8, 8-9, 10-11, 14, 17
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
 
Jesus said to the wise scribe, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God."  He said this because only the wise and the prudent can understand what God has to say.  The reason for this is because is the same reason that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom – it requires a humbling of our nature, especially our intellect, to realize that some things cannot be "figured out" about God, but must rather be "revealed".  Hence, the revelation of God in Scripture, which is just the written account of his revelation to us throughout history.
 
This subjugatation of the intellect to faith does not means that understanding certain things about God means realizing the limits of our intellects – it does not mean that we check our brains at the church door.  "Christian Science" is an oxymoron, because no one who replaces science with faith can truly be called a Christian, for they have "called what is good, evil" by claiming that the product of our minds (which God found to be "very good") is false and evil.  Although limited with respect to the limitless God Who made us and everything else, visible and invisible, our intellects are still mighty things capable of understanding far more than our immediate surroundings and sensations. 
 
We are created in the image and likeness of God.  This means that our souls were made similar to God – as an immortal spirit.  Since our spirit (made in the likeness of God) is also our soul – that which motivates or inspires (from the Latin in spiritu meaning "breathes into") our mortal bodies – our brains are animated by a mind like (but not equal to) God’s.  This is a tremendous gift that we are not to waste in "blind" faith.  "We walk by faith and not by sight" doesn’t mean that we don’t use our eyesight at all.  Rather, walking by faith means that we are not to fully trust all that we see and experience, because situations can change at any time, especially if it is God’s will that it change.  When God changes something quickly or suddenly, it’s called a miracle; when He changs something slowly, it’s called "evolution".
 
As stated before, this is a tremendous gift, but it comes with tremendous responsibilities.  Given that our human faculties are made by God, we are to use them to the best of our abilities, in cooperation with God’s will (which is where faith comes in).  Using the brains God gave us, coupled with the eyes of faith, we have binocular vision so as to see things how they truly are.  Using one or the other exclusively means we are half-blind.  Using faith alone (sola fidei), as stated above, is akin to Christian science – not doing anything, trusting that God will "magically" make it all work out right, without any effort of our own.  ("Faith without works is dead.") 
 
Using brains alone, without the extra enlightenment that comes from faith in Christ, the light of the world, yields promises of hopeful bright futures, in which every question is answered, but with results that are all-too-familiar: dreary, hopeless lives, that are searching for meaning in the world while simultaneously blocking out The Meaning Himself.  For example, using our brains, we have created all kinds of medicine and technology to heal the body and ease suffering.  However, if we only use our brains, we might be tempted to make medicine a false god – one that teaches us that human bodies are mere machines, the brain being a computer-like mechanism that is only running on complex circuits charged by neurochemicals.  If the body and mind are mere machinery, then everything the machine does is predetermined, every part of the machine is fully interchangeable, even with other similar machines – this starts off looking good, in that blood transfusions and organ donors help save lives.  But then the lies get mixed with the truth – lies like "machines don’t have souls, and the body and brain are just machines – therefore, humans don’t have souls".  Additionally, the medicine god is an idol that requires sacrifice – in the name of science, other "mere machines" can be scrapped for parts (like a car that doesn’t run well anymore), or even specially bred for those parts (cloning and stem cells anyone?).
 
This is where the binocular vision of the truth is required – only with the eyes of faith helping the eyes of the mind can we see that we are not to do things "in the name of science" but "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit".  With the eyes of faith, we realize that machines do not run on their own, but must be acted upon by an outside agent – a mover or animator that we call "the soul".  These souls are no more a by-product of some physical events of evolution (even if the body it inhabits is), than a cave dweller is the by-product of the events that created the cave.  This makes the souls, not products of nature, but rather things begotten by "something" greater.  If something greater than us made our souls, who are we to make decisions about any soul but our own – and even those decisions only as a steward and not as an owner.  Therefore, we have no right to use our bodies or the bodies of others as mere objects, without regard to the souls that inhabit them.  We are to love our neighbors as ourselves.  This realization only comes to us by loving God, not just "with all your heart", but also "with all your soul and with all your mind."  Finally, when we also love God "with all your strength", we will find the strength to preach the Gospel (the Good News that the world has meaning, and that meaning is God) to a world that has lost sight of that meaning.
 
God is closer to our souls than we are to ourselves, for before He formed us in the womb, He knew us.  Before we came to be in the physical world, we were already an idea present in the mind of God.  It is because of this love for us that He is willing to rescue us when we call out to Him, and He is willing to forgive us when we are burdened with sin and ask His help.  It is only fitting that we return that love back to Him, and that is most often done by loving Him through a third party, our neighbor.
 
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