I was at a baptism reception recently. There were a number of infants and very young children there. I looked into their eyes and marveled at what I think their brains were taking in.
I have been reading a book called “The Teenage Brain” by Dr. Frances E. Jensen, chair and professor of neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The book gives me an insight into the learning experience in the beautiful development of the human brain and its eventual 100 billion neurons.
This may sound strange, but the sight of the infants and the book were very helpful for homily purposes when I considered perhaps the most profound reading of the Acts of the Apostles (8:26-40) in which the Ethiopian calls to Philip for “instruction” in the study of the Bible and St. John’s Gospel (6:44-61) that tells us [“we] shall all be taught by God.”
The infants and the words of Scripture led me to think about the great necessity for us to step back and continue to learn about God as God. I think we have to go into our hearts and minds and breathe into our beings what God has done and is doing.
We have to convert what we hear and say into our real-time experiences. For instance when we say, “We believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth,” do we think about what he has created — for instance the brain, the moon and the stars, the babies we all love, the food we eat, the planes we fly in, the trees and foliage we enjoy, the Pepto Bismol we drink? Do we think about our ability to pierce our human horizons so we believe that the bread and wine we see are only the outward, sacramental reality of the real Body and Blood of Christ, the Bread of life?
All of us, after decades of study, have so much more to learn and for which to express awe and gratitude so that we might not only know about Jesus but know Jesus.
Further, while we continue our good works we must plumb them to go beyond to digest our learnings, build a personal life with Christ and follow Pope Francis when he says in his book, The Church of Mercy, that “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in our parishes, in our communities and in our institutions when so many people are waiting for the Gospel.” Do you believe we need to go to the streets, as Francis says, and get the smell of the sheep?
Just like Philip and the Ethiopian, we are still on the road of discernment. I think all of us need, as best we can, to try to grasp a way to glorify God and to do his will. How do we do that for such an immense person? We can do it just as a moth does. Regard one of the simplest of God’s creations as it circles light to give reference to its place in space.
We can do the same by circling God and keeping Christ as our reference point in life, by remembering to pray, “With Him, through Him and in Him, O God, Almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever.” Lord, help me profess your glory.
Deacon Bill Masapollo is a retired permanent deacon of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.