Monday, April 21, 2014

Layers of meaning

At times the Catholic and Orthodox Churches approach can seem overly complex. There are 50 days in the Easter Season, but then Easter like Christmas gets celebrated for an octave, that's eight days, and don't even mention how we calculated the date for Easter. Why so complicated? There are those who would have you believe that life was so much simpler for Jesus and his apostles, forgetting that they were all observant Jews, keeping all 613 commandments of the law. (Mt. 5:18).

Our faith is not simple because life is not simple, human beings are not simple, and understanding God is not simple. Taking a simplistic approach to a complex world, is never the path to wisdom or even success. We must learn to look beneath the surface and understand that not just the bible, but in much of life there are layers of meaning. The complexity of our faith helps to train us to see the multiple layers of meaning. Remember that Jesus teaches us the be wise as serpents but innocent as doves. Innocent does not mean simple or naive.

Look at today's gospel. We see the complex plot to hide the truth of the resurrection. The guards are simultaneously bribed and threatened. They give them a large sum of money and tell them
You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”

The implied threat is of course, and if you don't do this, we will blame you for everything. It would have had to have been a very large sum of money because no Roman guard would dare admit the crime of falling asleep on duty. Lies, conspiracy, intrigue all these things are as old as humanity, and as Christians we have to know how to confront them without fear.

The Church in her wisdom pairs this reading with Psalm 16. The response for today is: Keep me safe, O God; you are my hope.

On this second day of Easter, let us pray for a renewed spirit of hope, not just for ourselves but for our world as we confront the complex issue around the globe. Let us not fear complexity but embrace it, dive into it. Let us never be content with how things appear on the surface.