The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Pursuing a life of faith takes more than a little bit of openness to mystery and to “possibility.” There is certainly room for doubts and questions (the apostle Thomas teaches us that), but we cannot approach Jesus if we think we already have all the answers. If we think we have it all figured out, then there is no room for an alternative answer, so skepticism (which is not the same thing as doubt) leaves us more or less closed off to the Word of God. The crowd whom Jesus fed with the loaves and fishes followed Jesus. They had questions for him, but they were not really open to his answers. They had already experienced firsthand his mighty deeds, but that was not sufficient for them so they asked for more signs. They said they wanted what he offered, and yet their skepticism prevented them from understanding.
Theology, the academic discipline of, literally, “the study of God,” has been defined as “faith seeking understanding.” In many ways, our daily life in Christ is about just that—our striving and taking steps to understand what we profess to believe. Believing doesn’t mean we have all the answers, but believing does mean that we have a desire to understand as well as an openness to what is possible even when it is beyond understanding. This is not an easy thing, but I think it has to begin with somehow giving God the benefit of the doubt, to trust that God has something to offer us that we don’t already possess and that we cannot find elsewhere. During these weeks that we listen to these challenging words of Jesus from the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John, I encourage you to discover anew that place in your heart where you know deeply how good God is because he is the source of your very being. That is where this level of trust begins.
With the transfer of Fr. Sam Young to Immaculate Conception last week, we are once again a “2-priest parish” (Fr. Sam was not a full-time member of our staff, so we were technically not a “3-priest parish”). During the month of August both Fr. John and I are taking some vacation time, so we will be welcoming a number of visitors to assist us with the celebration of Mass on weekdays and weekends, beginning this weekend as we welcome back Fr. Carlos! In addition to the continuing service of Fr. Steve Spahn, SJ, from Loyola University, over the next few weeks, I am grateful for the assistance of Bishop Mark Brennan, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore, Fr. Bill Foley, Fr. Joe Cosgrove, and on weekdays, Msgr. Paul Cook, Pastor Emeritus. Thanks for making all of our visitors—not only our priests but the many who join us for mass each weekend—feel welcome.