Faith is a family matter.
Our parents teach us our prayers.
Our godparents send us money on our birthdays.
Our uncles and aunts celebrate Christmas and Easter with us.
And our grandparents pray for us when we get in trouble.
For most of us, most of the time,
family and faith go together
like and fish and Fridays in Lent.
But that’s not the situation in today’s gospel.
In this story, a young man’s parents are of no assistance
when it comes to the matter of his faith.
Not only that, but it’s clear that his “pastor”
and the other “church people” in his life
do all they can to denigrate the incredible miracle
that Christ has performed on him.
So, what do we make of this?
His family is of no help.
His parish is of no help.
It’s an odd story.
Unlike any other conversion story I can think of,
the passage ends with a private conversation
between Jesus and the young man.
There’s no proclaiming of the Kingdom of God.
There’s no spreading of the Word.
There’s no family celebration or community rejoicing.
It’s a very unusual story…
but what an amazing kid!
Think what he went through for the sake of knowing Christ.
He took it on the chin…
at home, in public and at the syngogue.
He had to fight his way to Christ.
Makes you wonder if you could do the same, doesn’t it?
Well, maybe you have.
And maybe you’re better at it than you know.
Have you had to fight your way to Christ?
When newspapers papers inform us of scandals in the Church,
the scope and nature of the terrible offences makes us angry.
It makes us clench our fists.
It breaks our stride and it breaks our heart.
But what do you do?
You take a cue from the kid in today’s gospel
and you fight your way to God, that’s what you do!
Sad to say, but opportunities
to follow his example abound.
When your pastor upsets you.
When the Pastoral Council irritates you.
When statements by theologians confuse you.
When decisions by bishops disappoint you or anger you…
these are instances when you have to fight your way to Christ.
That’s what you do.
When your church-going in-laws judge you,
when your friends ridicule your beliefs,
when your business partners don’t understand your faith-based priorities…
you begin to realize something important:
you begin to realize that a faith that costs you nothing
isn’t worth a hill of beans.
At the end of the day,
the truth at the center of our faith
is that Christ conquered sin and death on the wood of the cross…
and it was quite a fight.
And none of us here
can ever claim to one with Him
without a fight of our own.
©Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer