We have had a lot going on in these recent days. Politics are heating up with indictments of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen on charges relating to the election in 2016 and the possibility of Russian interference in it. There has also been a grand jury report on the sexual assaults by members of the Roman Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania and the protection of some of the clergy by their bishops. These events hit most of us close to home because we care about our country and we care about our faith. Things that demean either of them are hard to listen to and very difficult to watch. I have no idea how all of this is going to turn out. The politics are hard to imagine. There will be many accusations and denials coming along in the near future. It is hard to know how the midterm elections will turn out, although it is probable that all of this will make some kind of a difference. What is clear to me is that this is the world that we are living in and it is necessary that we all take it seriously. I love this country and I love my faith. I want to be certain that this nation thrives and also that our faith has an impact on how we all live our lives. It is tempting to look at the President’s current problems and to laugh because of all of the denials , but that isn’t helpful. What we need is to get things back on the right track and to continue to be a country that cares about the world that we live in and offers as much help as possible.
Jesus has been all over Israel preaching and healing. He has attracted many disciples who have heard his words and have followed him. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is tells all of them who he really is: the bread which has come down from heaven. Not like the bread that your ancestors ate, and they died. But those who eat of this bread will live forever.
Many of those who heard Jesus say this couldn’t believe what he said and they went away, but the twelve whom he had chosen stayed with him. He asked them if they also wanted to leave him, but Peter said: Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to know that you are the Holy one of God. These are beautiful words spoken by Peter on behalf of the rest of the disciples. They tell the truth about Jesus and what he did for us in this world. He brought himself to live among us; offered his body and blood for us as signs of eternal life. When we come to the altar and receive the Eucharist, we are receiving that wonderful gift and the promise of eternal life.
This is the point that our faith makes in a world full of chaos. We can spend our time worrying about the ridiculous political mess that is going on around us, or put our trust in the
God who loves us and who sent his only Son to come to us and give himself up for us so that we can know what the promise of eternal life means. It is interesting how faith began and shaped this country. The Puritans and the Pilgrims came to our shores to create a place where their faith cold be secure. In many ways, Puritanism has continued to be a part of our nation’s faith ever since. We have had a number of famous preachers emerge in our culture. Many of them have had a political strain to their preaching. I think of Jerry Falwell and Jim Bakker who tried very hard to lead this country in a conservative direction. Billy Graham was always seen as a faithful pastor whose preaching was always an attempt to help people to see the truth of the faith.
In recent times, we have Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama who have shared their faith in a wonderful book called The Book of Joy, which I eagerly read. It takes us out of the places where we spend most of our time, our own worries and needs and places us in an environment where we can understand how God intends for us all to live. I am impressed that both of these dynamic men suffered their own trials: Bishop Tutu as a black man in South Africa, oppressed by the white majority and the Dalai Lama in Tibet oppressed by the Chinese. Their testimony in this great book lifts us all above he oppression of this world and places us in the hands of a loving God. I love the mixture of religion in this book. Here is an eminent Buddhist and a remarkable Christian pooling their common love and sharing it with the world. This is what God has in mind for humanity. We are loved deeply by our creator and we are called to love one another with equal fervor.