FARGO — “The worst thing man can do is to kill God.” The written words by Archbishop Fulton Sheen struck and grieved me.
Killing God. We are doing that in so many ways these days. Along with being pained as an observer of this, I also need to be constantly aware of the times that I have contributed. Mea culpa for anything I’ve ever done to add to this grievous reality.
To some, God is already dead, and if not dead, irrelevant and not worth their time. This might be the saddest column I’ve ever written because of what it implies. Yet here in the season of Lent, there’s probably no better time to confront this horrible truth. For we’re being given a chance to notice the voids in our hearts and discern ways of bringing God more assuredly into them. God alone restores and redeems.
Recently, our pastor addressed this killing of God in a Sunday homily deciphering 1 Cor. 2:6-8, a portion of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. The verses speak of the wisdom of God, described as a mature wisdom, versus “the wisdom of this age” and its rulers who tout it; people and ideas that will soon pass away.
God’s wisdom, the Scriptures reveal, is “mysterious” and “hidden,” and “predetermined before the ages for our glory.” Then comes this line, which sends chills down my spine: “For if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
Worldly wisdom tends to come forth whenever I write a column that elicits varying thoughts, effecting a cacophony of voices chiming discordant refrains. I don’t take the negative voices personally. It may stun me for a moment, but not long, for I know the taunts aren’t ultimately directed at me, but our Lord. With each hateful utterance, Christ takes the hit. Understanding this has been a grace. The wisdom of the world cannot hurt anyone who is loved by the great lover and knows it, and this truth brings abiding consolation.
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Yet I am still shaken at times, because when I look at the cross and realize who suffers in my place, I can’t help but be disturbed. For he, who was sinless, is wholly undeserving of these daggers.
Sheen also points out, with Godly wisdom, that “Our Lord drove one edge of the sword into his own heart, for no one took away his life – ‘I lay it down of Myself.’ He was upright as a priest, prostrate as a man so that man might do his worst.” Then, bringing all to resolve: “By permitting man to summon forth his strongest armaments and then defeating him by resurrection from the dead, our Lord showed that evil would never be victorious again.”
In quiet spaces, I try to listen, not to the voices of the world, but to the voice of wisdom, which calls me, and you, to repentance and love.