Soul Food for Sundays

Soul Food for The Third Sunday of Lent, 3rd March 2024

Reflections 3rd March 2024
John 2:13-25

The Author: Pat Coughlan C.S.Sp.
calendar_today Date: February 26, 2024 - 3 minutes read

Once Jesus had risen from the dead, the disciples had the job of spreading the message. In today’s Second Reading, St Paul makes it clear how difficult that was.

The disciples faced huge skepticism. Their audiences were mostly Jews and gentiles. How do you persuade them that, not only did Jesus rise from the dead but that He was God’s son sent to redeem them?

The Jews among them wanted signs and miracles. The Greeks wanted rational explanations based on evidence. As St. Paul says, what he had to offer was Christ crucified … an unacceptable scandal to the Jews and complete madness to the Greeks.

As we become more secularized and more sophisticated in our understanding of the Universe, there is a widening skepticism and a growing atheism regarding matters of faith – Where is the evidence that God exists or that Christ rose from the dead?  Many of these people are highly intelligent – scientists like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, and TV personalities like Stephen Fry. They are scathing in their dismissal of faith. They can rattle off a long list of biblical contradictions to demonstrate their theory that belief in God is naïve and delusional. And, of course, there are lots of mysteries in our faith that are certainly not provable. For them, if it’s not provable it probably doesn’t exist.

So we have the clash of different ways of knowing: the rational way of knowing and ‘the faith way of knowing’.  Faith is a way of knowing that transcends the rational way of knowing. It’s extraordinary in the sense that it demands a leap into areas where the rational mind cannot fully understand. It’s why St Paul says that to the wise it appears to be ‘foolishness’. The point is that God’s intervention into our lives is vastly more radical and incomprehensible than their ability to understand it. If they can’t fit God into their understanding of who they think He / She should be then He / She doesn’t exist. So they lock themselves out of the Mystery.

Faith is all about mystery. God is not limited to human intelligence. What kind of God would God be if He could fit into our limited minds? St Paul puts it into perspective: ‘God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom; God’s weakness is stronger than human strength’.

Image by Martin Winkler from Pixabay

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Pat Coughlan C.S.Sp.

Ordained in 1965, Fr Pat, who is from Cork city, ministered in Brazil. Having done further studies, he practiced as a counsellor in west Dublin and, for 18 years, with SPIRASI and is one of a number Spiritans who have served in a pastoral role in West Dublin.