Archive for March, 2018

Holy Week and the Final Four

This Holy Week, an underdog Jesuit Catholic Loyola University arrives in San Antonio for college basketball’s Final Four.

Even the Ramblers’ 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, didn’t pick them to advance this far. Oh, she of little faith.

During Holy Week, Christians ponder the remarkable events that led to Jesus’ resurrection, and the clash of faith and doubt it tips off.

Shortly before Jesus’ “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem on the back of a virgin colt, he told a story of a widow who cried out to a judge for justice. The judge finally granted it because of the woman’s persistent faith. Jesus finished the story with a question:

“When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Regardless of your religious perspective, you have more faith than you think.

Every car you pass on a two-lane highway is a testament to your faith in your fellow drivers.

You believe you will be paid after a week or two of work.

You trust your bank will return the money you deposit at exactly the time you request it.

You are confident the grocery will take that money in exchange for food to cook.

And, if you don’t feel like cooking, you have faith the chef or burger flipper will, more or less, prepare your meal as your grandma would, without any extraneous “ingredients.”

When people break faith, we all pay a price. In our litigious culture, people turn to courts to resolve conflicts they could often avoid by following through on their commitments. As a result, lawyers paper contracts to protect clients from the prospect of broken faith.

This process comes at a cost. A friend calls it a “sin index,” referring to the increased prices we pay because people don’t always act in good faith.

So, in some areas we have faith. In others, we lack it. Jesus’ closest followers experienced this tension, even Simon whom Jesus called a rock (i.e., “Peter”).

After Judas took a bag of silver coins to betray Jesus, Peter took to anonymity to deny him.

“I’m telling you, I don’t know the man!” he told a servant girl in the temple courtyard.

Only hours before Peter had asserted to Jesus, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never disown you!”

But then the sword-wielding disciple went silent and a rooster crowed in his place, just as Jesus had predicted.

The resurrected Christ eventually reinstated Peter, and Jesus ultimately followed through on his promise to build his church on that rock.

In Peter, many of us find a piece of ourselves. Moments of conviction combined with episodes of disillusion.

Like the father of the demon-possessed boy in the gospel of Mark, chapter 9, we go to God with our need, but we also ask timidly as the father did, “If you can…”

“‘If you can?’” Jesus scoffs with his own disbelief in faith’s frailty. His is a loving pity.

“Everything is possible for him who believes,” he continues.

At the end, the sick boy’s father captures the paradox in every believer’s heart: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Perhaps that is Sister Jean’s Holy Week prayer for Loyola’s ballers. Go Ramblers!

 

Kevin Thompson writes regularly for The Boerne Star. Read more at http://www.kwt.info.

 

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