You love what you know and you know what you love. There is interconnectedness between these two realities: knowledge and love. My youngest brother Ryan, when he was in his teenage years, was a statition. The boy loved sports. And he was a walking thesaurus about all things sports. He had a sincere interest in players, drafts and standings. Because he had an interest in these sports he naturally studied stats.
You love what you know and you know what you love. When a person falls in love with another person the first thing they do is they ask questions. Love begets knowledge. As a person gets to know more the person they love, that knowledge then generates more affection. Love causes one to seek to understand the one that is loved.
And love can never be boiled down to a duty. For example, there was a time when I heard a study that said an average father spend thirty seconds a day speaking to his son. So let’s say there is a father who hears this average and says to himself, “I really want to love my son so I am going to spend five minutes a day speaking to my son!” The son comes home, the father starts a timer, they talk for exactly five minutes, he stops a timer and says, “Good talk” and walks away. We can say that he fulfills his duty, perhaps even exceeds his duty, but love is not automated. It is not “timed.” Love cannot be boiled down by duty. Knowledge is an intrigue that always follows love.
These are the realities of our liturgy today. Our opening prayer speaks of both the mind and the heart, “May we honor you with all our mind and love everyone in truth of heart.” Our first reading is concerns Jeremiah who was called to prophecy the word of God in order to share knowledge about God. And Jesus himself is seen as a prophet in today’s Gospel proclaiming God’s word. The knowledge that Jeremiah and Jesus share is the method they use for people to fall in love with the God they proclaim. And even the great poem to love in our second reading connects these two realities saying, “Love rejoices in truth.”
Just as one who loves another person asks questions about that person so too do we ask questions about the God we love. We cannot be stagnant in our faith. We must allow ourselves to be impelled to ask questions about God. And just as a father cannot boil his relationship to his son down to duty, so neither can we say, “I will give you my 50 minutes every Sunday. I did my duty. Peace out.” Rather a sincere love of God begets a desire to know him and knowledge of him begets a desire to love him even more.
This is our challenge coming up this Lent: to seek to know God intrinsically in order to grow in love of him; to ask questions about God, so that we can be challenged in our faith; truly challenged. Did you notice how in today’s Gospel Jesus was accepted; but by the end of the Gospel he was going to be thrown him over a cliff. Even the prophet Jeremiah was told that people were going to stand against him. Why? Because when we encounter truth we are challenged in our faith. And this is something we can be proud of in our diocese. A priest friend of my told once about how he was in an diocese in Eastern United States. He and another person were comparing the diocese of Wichita to the other diocese. The person from the east said, “You Catholics in Wichita, you are a different type of Catholic. In the East we know Catholicism is challenging, and we ignore it. But you Catholics in Wichita, you know Catholicism is challenging…and you like it.” We do, because we recognize that it stretches us beyond ourselves. For this reason this Lent we have several opportunities to grow in our faith.
I would like to introduce Thomas Skinner, a seminarian staying with us for the next year, who is going to share with you about how we can grow in our faith.