St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
7th June 2020
The ‘God Question’ never goes away.
The radio station we listen to says a lot about us – whether it is a music station and the particular kind of music – whether it is a news station – whether its local or national.
The same is true about the newspapers we read – but of course now so many people no longer get their news from papers or radio but from various social media channels.
Our choices are most sought after by advertising and marketing industry because they now have the technology to direct the right ads to the right people and places. That fits well into an overall aim to cultivate an audience or a group of clients or customers and hold on to them.
Is there any harm in doing that? In general, you would have to say no – there is not. However, it is not always as well intentioned as it seems. There is a fundamental desire to control and exploit individual choices.
My friends, today we celebrate the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity – the churches expression of our faith in God as a mysterious unity and communion in the Father Creator Son, Redeemer and the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier. While the Trinity is a formula of faith / belief it is also a dynamic and living communion of the divine and human.
The question of God in a sense never goes away. Even especially avowedly atheistic political systems have failed to crush the natural human aspiration to attend to the transcendent, that which is at once invisible but nevertheless utterly real and precious. It has been dismissed as the “opium of the people” and unfit and inappropriate for people of reason.
The most acceptable political solution is to separate the state from religion, the government from the church – in that way they will not interfere in each other’s sphere of influence. Over time in our context that has developed under the influence of political pressure into the effort to ensure the expression of religious faith be entirely privatised and eliminated from the public sphere. That is justified on the grounds that whatever you or I believe in is personal, private and it is one’s own business.
This is a profoundly flawed way of going forward as a society. The desire for a clear separation of Church and State is a noble and desirable way of respecting the diversity of religious faith. However, to secularize all Church State engagements is to deny the fundamental communitarian nature of religious faith and its importance in nurturing a personal spirituality in an increasingly sterile secularity.
For the Church across the world the experience of the restrictions required by risks of Covid- 19 has been arresting. When that which we have been accustomed to was taken from us so abruptly created a great void and great pain especially for those who were bereaved.
It was great that thanks to technology we have been able to bridge the gap in some measure. While the virtual can evoke the real but never replace it.
This ‘lockdown’ is being gradually lifted and we are looking forward to the new freedom for all kinds of reasons. As we emerge from the ‘lockdown’ it is important that we bring with us what we have learned individually and as a family.
The ‘lockdown’ sharpened our thinking about many things – it raised questions
about faith/belief in God
about hope for the future
about love and its importance
how we use the ‘forced opportunity’ will be lessons well learned for the future.
One thing all of humanity has learned is that we are not in control to the extent we thought. The question of God has not gone away. The Church, sinful and flawed as it is, seeks always to help us see and appreciate our God given life and world. We do not find joy and fulfilment in the exclusive pursuit of our own individual desires and wishes rather that together we are richly gifted with many blessings and walking in the way of Jesus guided by abiding promise of His Spirit we together can create a world where justice and the dignity of all is realised and respected.
In Christ – there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free…..
God has no favourites.