People of faith have an ambush predator inside them. It lures Its prey with the host’s joyful demeanor amidst trials and tribulations, then, when the prey asks “what are you so happy about?,” wham, the host explains the source of their inner peace. In this Sunday’s first reading, the prophet Jeremiah uses more tranquil imagery to explain how the faithful keep the faith when troubles surround us (Jer 17:5-8):
Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.
That fruit attracts those hungry for hope and it nourishes them, giving them the strength to draw others to them and plant the seed of faith in hopeless souls. Once nourished, the faithful can’t imagine any other kind of life. They buy into the romantic notion of “All or Nothing at All,” just as Paul does. This is what he tells the Corinthians in Sunday’s second reading (1 Cor 15:12, 16-20):
Brothers and sisters: If Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain.
Christ is the living word of God, and the ultimate ambush predator. His words still live, 2,000 years after his crucifixion and resurrection. They draw people in then inject them with the truth. The peace that comes from believing this truth becomes visible in them so it may draw and infect others. Christ knew what he was doing, as Sunday’s gospel reading demonstrates him turning prospects into prophets (Lk 6:17, 20-26):
Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.
Jesus defeated evil the same way, as an ambush predator. He came into the world, a Peasant King born of peasant parents—and an apparently easy mark for the Prince of Darkness. But both good and evil royalty sensed his presence. The good grew the good, while the evil, in their attempts to destroy the good, were tricked into thinking that was possible. Jesus fooled Satan into believing this peasant could be lured out of the desert with earthly bait and ambushed into discipleship. Instead, Jesus pounced—using the word of God as a spear to pierce evil’s ego. Then, when Jesus himself was pierced, the Prince of Darkness was fooled again into thinking the Prince of Peace was vanquished and humanity’s soul was his to plunder. But to Evil’s shock and shame, the Word of God thrived with that crucifixion and to this day continues to surprise and dispatch evil—soul by soul.
Now take a listen to the person who inspired this week’s blog: Father John Riccardo. This entire talk is worth hearing, but if you want to get to the heart of the predator, go to about the 37 minute mark. This perspective is amazing! Enjoy.