4th Sunday of Lent
4th Sunday / Lent / A
March 25-26, 2017
St. Thomas Aquinas, Ames, Iowa
Fr. Jon Seda
Curtis Martin is the founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, often called FOCUS. In an online talk I watched, he tells this story: A teacher writes two words on the blackboard: ignorance and apathy. He asked the students to define these two words. One student replies, "I don't know and I don't care." Which is the correct answer!
He goes on his talk to say that we in the Church sometimes get these two words confused, or perhaps not in the correct order. My generation of priests are called the John Paul II soldiers, since we came of age during this pontificate. Our assumption was that if only people knew the richness and beauty of our faith, it would renew the Church. We thought what was really needed is more apologetics.
The problem with this is that it does not work. Our work in the Church today needs to address the more basic question: Why should I care? Catechesis is important, and the Catholic Church has a great intellectual tradition. But it is not the first step forward.
So in the past years, our parish and other forward looking parishes have shifted from catechesis to evangelization, from addressing ignorance to addressing apathy, from focusing on what we need to know to why should I care.
We come to know the Lord most intimately not from books or faith formation classes (which I still call CCD since I am old school.) We come to know the most intimately from personal prayer and from the stories of people we know. These stories speak to "This is what the Lord has done in my life in a way that I did not expect or even want."
Stories like today's rather lengthy Gospel about the man born blind. The line that spoke to me the most this week is the response of the blind man as he was being interrogated and harassed: "All I know is I was blind before, and now I see. That is all I know."
We learn from the stories of people we know and look up to. This happens in our resident and student small groups, in our recent Antioch and CEW retreats, and in our large group events called Come Awake and the Carpenter Shop. Stories of how God has acted in my life are told here. And they are told outside of the Church as well, when parents and grandparents and mentors speak of what Jesus has done in their lives. They might say something like: "Before I used to worry and now I trust." "Before I was addicted and now I am free." "Before I was self-centered and self-absorbed, and now I seek to live for others." "Before I was stingy and now I am generous." "Before I was bitter and angry and now I can easily laugh."
When we hear such stories, we ask the obvious question: How did that happen in your life? The answer we hear is that I did not do it. Many times I did not even want it. God did it.
When the blind man was asked what happened to him when he encountered Jesus, his simple reply is, "All I know is I was blind before, and now I see. That is all I know." If that is all he knows about Jesus, he knows enough.