Monday, April 25, 2011

Homily 28: Eyes On the Prize (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fishes, but what are they among so many?" John 6:9

At the crisis moment of the feeding of the five thousand, the disciple Andrew thought that he was asking an intelligent question, and that is where he went wrong. It is our so-called "intelligent questions" that get us into trouble. The instant that we think we know exactly what is going on, the game is up, and our ignorance is about to be exposed. Andrew's question sounds commonsensical, given the circumstances, yet it was completely off-base. Its problem was not in its conclusions, mind you, but in its premise; not in its endgame, but in its starting-point. Andrew's focus was wrong: he was looking at the wrong thing and thus asking the wrong question. Instead of looking at the meager bread and fishes and asking what they could do "amongst so many," he should have been looking at Christ and asking what He could do "amongst so many." Then his conclusions would have changed: if Christ is Messiah, then He is enough.

The battle that most often afflicts every believer revolves around the same issue: is Christ/God enough?  Like Andrew, it will all depend on our focus. If the eyes of our heart are focused upon God and all that Christ has revealed about Him, then our lives (with all their myriad of moments) will find a stable sanity and clarity. However, if the eyes of our heart are focused upon anything else (whether it be the current crisis or our own strengths and talents), then our lives will rip from our grasping hands in a terrible whirlwind. No longer centered on the rock, we sink into the sand.

Of course, troubles and trials are a part of life, regardless of our focus. The point is that when your focus is primarily and  fundamentally on God and Christ, then troubles are faced with a startling inward peace and sharpened outward clarity. Without that initial focus, however, the troubles become overwhelming, because they are overwhelming. Five loaves and two fishes were nothing in the face of five thousand hungry mouths. The means were really insufficient, and thus the problem really was overwhelming. What was the solution? Taking your eyes off of the insufficient means and placing them onto the sufficient one: Jesus Christ, God with us. When the child's eyes are on their Father, there is no trouble that can alarm.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011

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