14th Sunday (B)
4th July 2021
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“He was amazed at their lack of faith” Mk 6:6
One of the very difficult experiences of parents over these last decades has been the disappointment of seeing some or all their children become indifferent to the point of rejection of the faith and belief in God that they tried to hand on to them.
In fact, there are many who feel a sense of guilt and failure wondering what they did wrong along the way. Equally you have priests and religious who wonder if their efforts were entirely in vain so that they too wonder what they failed to do.
Consider then the observation at the end of the Gospel “He was amazed at their lack of faith”. And that was Jesus’ experience.
It prompts us to think a little deeper about the nature and experience of faith/belief in a time of great cultural change. That is what the late Gay Byrne sought to do in his series on interviews he did with a variety of people in public life in his series “The Meaning of Life”. For those who can recall them they varied hugely in interest – some were surprisingly shallow and vague, others were really substantive and worth viewing. The one thing they shared was their search for truth. He probably helped them in the process by his probing questions.
That shared search for truth, for trust, for an anchor in life is common to us all. In the past, what we often now refer to as the institutional church was an important pillar in that search. For many and for many reasons that is no longer the case. Yet still that so called institutional church is hugely important for us as individuals and as a society. It is no accident that the image of the mother is used of the church – that despite our shared failures and mistakes, the church seeks to be a genuine and caring mother to all who find themselves lost and confused.
Many people to-day when asked about religion or belief speak of themselves as spiritual but not religious. It is a way of expressing a certain positive spiritual belief but distancing themselves from a body of religious believers. It is akin to “the hurler on the ditch” observing but not engaged.
The tendency in the overall is to say it is a private matter anyway, which it is on one level but on another it is public, because you/I are citizens too. While many lesser things in life are private/personal by way of taste/preference, our values, beliefs and consequent behaviour are of public importance.
We risk, given the current nature of our debate, being brow beaten by a vociferous minority, being pushed down a spiral of the elimination of spiritual and religious inspiration from the quest for truth in the public discourse.
“He was amazed by their lack of faith”
As we negotiate the changes in family and society it is natural that a new generation will make new choices. Our differences, however, should not be an obstacle to talking to each other about what is important to take forward into a new context and equally learn to let go of thoughts that properly belong to a past time