Where is God?

5th Sunday of Ordinary Time
Friends in Christ, I was recently at a recollection for priests, and after lunch we watched a clip from a movie that had been out recently, called ‘God is not dead.’ What happens in it is, on the first day of a college class on philosophy, a professor, who is an atheist, tells all the students to write on a sheet of paper, ‘God is dead,’ and sign it. This means, he says, that God does not exist, it was only an idea that once was in people’s minds. If they sign it, he says, they will not have to cover that subject in class, which means students will get a higher grade.
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Student after student immediately begin signing the paper; every one of them, signing their name to ‘atheism’ in order to get an easier grade; except for one young man, Josh. The teacher asks him: why haven’t you signed it? With the class looking at him, he says, ‘Because I’m a Christian.’ The teacher tries to intimidate and embarrass him, but he won’t budge; so he is told that he will then have to get up in front of the class over the next weeks, and defend the idea that there is a God. ‘However, says the professor, You will fail.’
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Friends in Christ, this was only a movie, but nevertheless, in schools and in many places, there IS intimidation of we Christians; I have heard of this even in a local high school; unbelievers will often use their position of authority to push an agenda. I showed this part of the movie to our 8th grade, and it was agreed, that in that situation, all of us would have to do what Josh did, even if it would mean a poor grade in an important class.
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I don’t know how many students would sign on to atheism in order to get a grade, but it is true that today, a large number of young people are full of doubts about their faith.
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Alexis de Tocqueville said, that people who live in a democracy resist complex ideas; we are so busy, we are most interested in that ‘things work’-  results; we have little time to think about big ideas, like the meaning of life, like theology, or who is God – Modern society is about what will get results.
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And so when we see various religions out there, and big moral questions of the day – many people do not want to wrestle with learning more about their faith, or think about hard questions; we resist thinking about why Christ is different from other religious leaders – we resist thinking deeply, because this will create tension in our lifestyle and our relations with others.
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With so many things going on, it is far easier to push God out and just keep on with our romantic relationship, our entertainment, our day-to-day activities. It’s kind of interesting: little kids will sometimes admit in confession: ‘Father, I spend too much time with technology.’ But this we adults do too! We are busy with so many things, today, now; and we want to feel comfortable and ‘at home’ in this world with our activities; but God complicates that.
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To admit God into our heart means that we have to re-think whether I am living according to His will; it would mean that we would have to sometimes be unpopular, or take a stand, like the student in the movie. If we considered ourself a Christian, we would stand out, and this would be uncomfortable; we would have to take time away from the things we enjoy – to pray; and finally, by pushing God from our mind, we avoid being reminded that our true home is in the next life, not this life; we wish to avoid facing the fact that this life will end, just as it has for every other person. ‘Well, we say, it’s just a lot easier to live without God.’
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Friends, we can play this mind-game that so many are playing; rationalizing, busying ourselves so much in order to keep those inconvenient ideas of God far away. But unfortunately, a voice continues to speak from inside. We try to push that voice out, but the voice keeps prodding us. That voice is Jesus. That voice still loves us, and is calling.
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It is no coincidence that among many young people there is a despair – a despair of finding real happiness. It is directly related to this distancing of ourselves from God.
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We see in the gospel today, these fishermen who were going about their lives – their work was their life.
Then they encounter this Man, who is speaking differently than others; there is something about him;
out of nowhere he says, ‘Go out and try for a catch of fish.’
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Now these guys had fished all night, with no luck at all;
and they were fishermen, they knew that the worst time to fish is during the daytime.
But they did go out. And what a catch they made! Nets were jammed, they were breaking, they needed help from other fishermen.
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Peter sees this. Only God could do this.
Only God could call those fish from all over the lake, to be in that place, for the net to fall on them; Peter senses God’s presence in Jesus, there before him.
What is his reaction?
He falls down on his knees, ‘Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.’
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Friends, our faith cannot come alive – we cannot encounter the Living God and see how he will change our life into joy – without humility and an admission of our sinfulness and our need for the Lord.
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This Wednesday we will begin the season of Lent. These weeks will be a time for us to seek that voice of God who even we ourselves have sometimes stifled. Lent is a time to say ‘no’ to the distractions and to ‘gods’ that have taken over our heart. But really, Lent is a time to find God.
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How do we find him? Like St. Peter; like so many sinners who met Christ: on our knees; we must have humility, we must admit that we are sinners. When we recognize our littleness, then our eyes will see God’s greatness and his goodness.
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May the Blessed Virgin guide us in these days ahead; Mary, pray for us, that this Lent, we will find the great treasure: the joy of following Jesus Christ.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Alphonsus]

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