TODAY I WANT TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT.  I WANT TO PRESENT A DIFFERENT WAY OF LOOKING AT OUR LIFE IN THE CHURCH. MUCH LESS INSTITUTIONAL.  MUCH MORE  HUMAN AND PERSONAL ,  REALLY, IT IS AN ALTERNATIVE TO SEEING THE CHURCH AS AN INSTITUTION.  TODAY, WE’RE TOLD, WERE NOW  LIVING IN AWORLD FOCUSED ON INDIVIDUALS.  SO I HOPE THIS DIFFERENT VIEW MAY  EVEN BE HELPFUL HERE. BUT THAT COMES LATER.

THESE THREE READINGS DESCRIBE PEOPLE ON THE MOVE. FROM ABRAM ON THE EDGE OF THE DESERT TO JESUS AND HIS FOLLOWERS CLIMBING UP THE MOUNTAIN.   THEY WERE SO BUSY, LIVING ON THE GO AND LIVING ON THE ROAD.  WELL, TODAY, WE LIVE IN A WORLD ON THE MOVE.  THAT’S WHERE WE ARE, THAT’S WHAT WE DO.  I ADMIT THAT I’VE SLOWED DOWN A BIT.  I DON’T FLY OVER 50,000 MILES LIKE I DID UNTIL RECENTLY.  BUT MY VIEWS ARE ON THE ROAD.

BY CONTRAST, SO MANY OF OUR RELIGIOUS IDEAS AND VIEWS ARE NEVER ON THE MOVE.   THEY ARE IN THE AIR. THEY DON’T HAVE FEET.  THEY COULD BE ANYTIME, ANY DAY, ANYWHERE.  N ANY DAY OF THE WEEK, AND IN ANY PERIOD OF TIME.

REAL LIFE IS NOT LIKE THAT.  AND REAL CHRISTIAN LIFE CANNOT BE LIKE THAT. LIFE TAKES PLACE ON THE MOVE AND, TO USE AN IMAGE, IN THE DIRT.  AND IT IS A LIFE WITH NO CLEAN HANDS.  WE TALK ABOUT THE ‘LIFE OF THE CHURCH,’ THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.”  BUT  THAT LIFE DOESN’T HAVE HANDS, CLEAN OR DIRTY.IFE ON THE MOVE. WE TALK ABOUT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.  THE LIFE OF THE COMMUBUT THAT FALLS SHORT.  IT FALLS MUCH TOO SHORT, TOO NARROW, TOO LIMITED.  FORGET ALL THOSE CORPORATE IMAGES. WE ARE NOT THAT LIMITED.  THERE IS A BETTER IMAGE.  A REAL ONE. THING OF IUT AS A DOORWAY. A DOORWAY TO LIFE.  A LIVING DOORWAY TO A LIVING LIFE.  CHALLENGING YOU, DARING YOU TO TURN YOUR BACKS ON THE SAFE AND PREDICTABLE, AND WALK THROUGH THAT DOORWAY IN SEARCH OF LIFE.

IN SEARCH OF LIFE.  WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?  WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE IN SEARCH OF LIFE.  WHAT DOES THAT LIFE LOOK LIKE?  WELL I CAN THINK OF AN EASY DESCRIPTION .  PROFOUND BUT VERY EARTHY.  I’VE MENTIONED IT BEFOR. YEARS AND YEARS AGO ONE OF THOMAS AQUINAS’ STUDENTS ASKED HIM WHAT IS IT THAT SEPARATES HUMANS FROM ANIMALS.   EASY. TO BEGIN THERE IS ONE VERY OLD DESCRIPTION.  HE PUT IT ANIMALS ARE LED AROUND BY SOMEONE ELSE.  HUMAN BEINGS  CALL THE SHOTS IN THEIR LIVES BY AND FOR THEMSELVES.  WE GO THROUGH THAT LIVING DOORWAY INTO LIFE WHEN WE DECIDE, WE CHOOSE, THAT WE DESERVE BETTER THAN TO BE ACTED UPON. WE DESERVE TO DECIDE OURSELVES FOR OURSELVES. NO MORE, ‘WHAT CHOICE DO YOU HAVE?’ NO MORE ‘WE WERE ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS.’ MANY PEOPLE ARE LOST WITHOUT ORDERS TO FOLLOW. I DON’T REMEMBER WHEN I REALLY TOOK CHARGE OF MY LIFE.  THE BIG DECISION WHEN I WALKED OUT ON MY APPOINTMENT TO COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL AND TOOK OFF FOR FRANCE FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS. BUT I KNOW THAT LATER ON, WHEN I DECIDED TO JOIN THE DOMINICANS A COUPLE OF YEARS LATER, I WAS NOT LOOKING FOR SOME WAY OF LIFE.  FRANKLY IT NEVER APPEALED TO ME.  BUT WHAT I SAW THERE WAS A STRUCTURED DOORWAY – AWAY FROM THE LIFE POINTLESS LIFE OTHERS DESIGNED FOR ME, AND A WAY INTO THE WIDE WORLD OF AMERICAN FREEDOMS WHERE I COULD FIGURE OUT WHAT IT WAS INSIDE ME THAT MERITED COMING TO LIFE.  AND THEN RUN WITH IT. IRONICALLY I WAS THE ONLY ONE IN MY NOVITIATE CLASS WHO DIDN’ HAVE ALL OF THOSE RELIGIOUS HAVE-TOS AND GOT-TOS THEY WERE MARINATED IN.

MY VIEW HERE IS OBVIOUSLY PERSONAL. BUT FOR ME NOT BEING ACTED UPON BY OTHERS, AND ACTUALLY TAKING CHARGE AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS, HAT IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE HUMAN. FOR ME, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE ABSORBED FROM THE OUTSIDE IN.  AND LIFE THAT FLOWS FROM THE INSIDE OUYT. IT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LIFE AND A CODE OF CONDUCT.

A CHRISTIAN LIFE LIVED FROM THE OUTSIDE IN IS RELIGIOUS THEATER. A LIFE WITH AUDIENCES. A CHRISTIANITY LIVED FROM THE INSIDE OUT HAS NO AUDIENCE. IT IS NOT THEATER. BUT IT MAY WELL BE A ONE MAN OR ONE WOMAN DRAMA – A WANDERING STREET DRAMA. WITH ONLY YOUR OWN SENSE OF SELF-REFLECTION TO WITNESS IT.  IT IS LONELY.   LONELY FOR YOU, AND IT IS LONELY FOR ME.  A LAYMAN OR WOMAN WHOSE LIFE DOES NOT FIT A CELLPHONE INDEX IS IRRELEVANT.  A PRIEST WHO DOES NOT PUT ON A WINNING SHOW SERVES NO SOCIAL PURPOSE.  REAL LIFE IS RISKY.  AND ONLY WE CAN CHOOSE TO TAKE THE RISK.  AND WE TAKE IT, I GUESS, ONLY FOR OUR OWN PURPOSES.