Sunday, June 29, 2014

Jesus' Shocking Secret

Suppose you had a secret the was so fantastic that no-one would believe it.
Would you start doubting it yourself?

Suppose you had a secret that would make your life better if you implemented it?
Would you take action to implement it?

Suppose you had a secret that would help a lot of people.
 Would you tell them about it?

Suppose you had a secret that was so valuable that revealing it would put your life in danger.
Would you reveal that secret anyway?

Today, in our Gospel reading from Chapter six of John’s Gospel we hear the shocking revelation of Jesus’s secret,
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven: whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

And Jesus went on saying,
“Let me solemnly assure you, if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you.”

Following the verses we read this morning John goes on to explain that many of his followers turned to each other and said, “this is hard to believe” or “I can’t take this seriously.” Hearing the murmuring he challenges them, and us, “does this shake your faith?” 

John tells us that many of Jesus’ followers turned away from him at this point. You and I know many friends and relatives that have don’t believe Jesus’ secret either. For example:

“I think that Jesus was a great ethical teacher but I don’t think he was God.”

Another part of the secret was revealed when Jesus says, “My flesh is real food and my blood real drink. Those that feed on my body and drink my blood remain in me and I in them” 

Again many are skeptic here, “I can’t accept that God would interact with mere humans in such a personal way.”

Do you suppose that life would be better if God himself was walking with me, or as Jesus said, dwelling within me? Today we hear Jesus’ instructions of how to implement this offer!

By now, in this discussion, most of us can see that Jesus’ secret revealed in John Chapter Six is also the great Catholic secret.

Jesus is God.
Jesus/God came
To free us from sin and
To share with us the divine life
through the physical intimacy of the Eucharist.

What fantastic news, what Good News! 

I think this news is worth sharing! Have you been sharing this news?

I suspect there are a lots of folks you know that could benefit from a closer walk with God?  Yet there are even some, who consider themselves Christian, who do not know this secret! What is the worst that can happen if you share this secret? That the person rejects the idea. Don’t feel bad. Even Jesus had long term followers turned away when he shared this secret. If this Good News is as valuable as we Catholics believe, it truly is worth sharing and inviting others to share in God’s Sacramental gifts.

Now it is true that in many countries political regimes prohibit persons of one faith or another from the sharing of their faith in public or in print or even electronically. In these places the virtue of the Christian’s lives may remain the only way to share the Good News. In thousands of cases over the last century Christians have indeed paid for their faith with their lives. Are we prepared to do the same?

In our country we currently can speak and write  publicly about our faith and the Good News but challenges to that are arising every day. Earlier in my life I was deeply involved in politics. I was appointed to several government boards and ran for political office three times. I won two elections and lost one.

As a politician and as a citizen involved in the public debate I have heard opponents on certain issues claim that my opinion should be ignored because I was Catholic or Christian. In many cases this was a tactic to avoid discussing the clearly political, scientific or other non-religious reasons for my political position. This devaluing of Christian Citizens opinions appears to be growing and has alarmed many religious leaders who have called for prayer in support of freedom of speech.

If Jesus is God (sh! Its our secret) then his teachings are God’s instructions for our lives. If Jesus is God  (sh! Its our secret) we should do our best to follow his teachings!

Yet we face a new challenge that is called “moral nullification.”  This involves tricking or forcing an opponent (usually a political or business opponent) to perform or pay for something he or she is known to consider immoral. Their opinion on related issues or their products can then be ridiculed.

For example a manufacturer (A)  may suggest that its competitor(B) uses child or slave labor in its factories. If this is true the public might have a justified negative view of the competitor or his products.

If however company A can control or bribe the government where company B is located to require company B to use child or slave labor then company A has used forced moral nullification to make their opponent vulnerable to ridicule.

In our country this is currently being attempted by requiring most businesses including religious non-profits to pay for employee insurance that will pay for abortions and other procedure that are considered immoral by many religious groups or face fines of millions of dollars each month.

This week EWTN, the Catholic TV, Radio, newspaper and media non-profit was told by a Federal Judge that they must pay for this insurance for their employees.

This forced moral nullification then interferes with Christian efforts to implement Jesus’s teaching.

Our Bishops have designated the two weeks leading up to the Fourth of July as a “fortnight for Freedom”, a time of prayer for religious freedom and freedom of speech. More than anything, it is a call to all Catholics to respond more deeply to the freedom we have been given in the Spirit as the children of God.

Why is this important to us? Remember how we began this talk about Jesus’ secret, now our secret, a secret we have told the whole world :

Jesus is God
come to live with us
and to teach us his ways.

* Bible quotations from  New American Bible, revised edition, click here for link to permissions.

© Copyright 2014 Joseph E. Hilber. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner without prior written permission of the author.

Joseph E. Hilber
P.O. Box 501
Pelican Rapids, Mn 56572-0501

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