Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homily 20: What Did You Expect? (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John [the Baptist], 'What did ye go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?'" Matt. 11:7

The Christian life is full of the unexpected, mainly because life is full of the unexpected. Those who try to fit life into some form of carefully systematized scheme are the first to go mad, because life will not fit the scheme, or else they have to break life in order to make it fit. To remain sane, they must either give up their scheme or ignore entire areas of life and thus amputate parts of their humanity. Most prefer the latter, because they have idolized their scheme above all other gods.

Concerning John the Baptist, Jesus said to the crowd, "What did you expect? Whatever it was, it was not what you got." That is a truth about all life, especially the life of the Christian. Our expectations are always foiled, and whether we are grievously disappointed or gloriously surprised depends on whether we see God or our personal creed and doctrine as the master of life. We all have personal creeds and doctrines; we all have our little ways of understanding and processing the world. They are not, in and of themselves, bad. The question is, when life and God (who is the master of life) upset your personal creeds and doctrines, will you have enough faith to let them go?

"For we know in part, and we prophesy in part" (I Cor. 13:9), i.e., we have true knowledge, but it is not yet complete. There are things that we do know, doctrines and creeds derived truly and accurately from Reason and Revelation, truths about life and God. However, no matter what we do know, we do not know it all, and the sooner that we realize and accept our limitations, the happier we will be. The man who tries to mount the insurmountable, to cross the infinite ocean and make it finite, he is the one who grows weary and mad with life. He is attempting to be Creator when he is merely creature, and he will find himself unable to take the strain.

Our schemes and plots, creeds and screeds ultimately do not matter. Our relationship with the One who is above all schemes does. Real knowledge exists, and it is wonderful to find; but it is never complete in this life, and every time we claim that it is, even on some tiny area of life, we make ourselves god of that tiny area. Can we allow ourselves to be small enough to see that God is God? Life will be a confusion and terror until we do.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011

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