I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved...
On this day when we hear of the Prophet Isaiah's staggering vision and Saint Peter's astonishment, we also hear Saint Paul remind you of the gospel I preached to you.
Isn't it amazing that we can forget the unforgettable? How often do we hear, and perhaps say, "I will never forget this as long as I live?" or, "I will always remember...?"
But we forget. Life goes on; the years pile up behind us. People with whom we shared major moments of our lives, who were there for us, have departed, sometimes forever.
Keeping faith means intentionally, deliberately remembering. It means stopping periodically and calling to mind what is nearly forgotten, lest it disappear altogether.
The human being is the only creature we know of that can remember not only things within their own life span, but also things that happened thousands of years ago. We can -- and must --remember theophanies when God appeared and spoke to our fellow human beings. That these interventions happened a long time ago, in a culture and geography that are practically alien to us, makes them all the more imperative.
If we forget Abraham's night of terror or Moses' burning bush or Mary's angel or Saint Paul's stumbling on the road to Damascus we will become strangers in a strange land. We will become strangers even to ourselves, unfamiliar with the face in a mirror.
And so we gather every Sunday to hear the Lord's command, "Do this in memory of me!" We come in obedience willingly because we fear what might happen if we fail to attend. It's not enough to study the Bible at home. It's not enough to watch a TV show about Jesus, or a movie about King David. These popular events will give us nothing more than what we want to believe about our faith, a palatable, sanitized version of God's demands, designed to sell products to gullible consumers.
Returning to the sanctuary where our grandparents and their grandparents met to pray each Sunday, we feel the weight and the freedom of the past. The present does not vanish but it finds perspective. A government shutdown is not a civil war. We have seen much worse! An opioid plague is another scourge of God meant to drive us back to obedience, not to destroy us.
Let us search and examine our ways,and return to the LORD. Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands toward God in heaven! We have rebelled and been obstinate; you have not forgiven us.Today's gospel assures us. The Lord will not go away from us although we are a sinful people. He has called us together on this Sunday morning to remind us of who we are, and what we must not forget. We must remember our destiny. The wounds we suffer will be healed; our present fears will vanish when the Risen Lord destroys even death itself.