"In uncertainty I am certain that underneath their topmost layers of frailty men want to be good and want to be loved. Indeed, most of their vices are attempted shortcuts to love. When a man comes to die, no matter what his talents and influence and genius, if he dies unloved his life must be a failure to him and his dying a cold horror. It seems to me that if you or I must choose between two courses of thought or action, we should remember our dying and try so to live that our death brings no pleasure to the world.
We have only one story.All novels, all poetry, are built on the never-ending contest in ourselves of good and evil. And it occurs to me that evil must constantly respawn, while good, while virtue, is immortal. Vice has always a new fresh young face, while virtue is venerable as nothing else in the world is." (East of Eden Ch. 34, by John Steinbeck)
I've been accused by a couple friends of being an evangelist for two great books, first the Holy Bible and second East of Eden by Steinbeck. I don't know how accurate that is, my faith is firmly rooted in the Word of God, Jesus Christ, as revealed through Sacred Scripture and Tradition. However, to their point and to my shame perhaps, I have given out more copies of East of Eden to people then I have the Bible. This is just the truth of evangelization though, you cannot help but talk about what you love. My father is kind of known for this, any introductory conversation with him lasting more than a couple minutes will have you knowing what and who he loves. You'll hear about his family, some close friends perhaps, and probably his Church. That is evangelization 101.
I was first introduced to East of Eden in 2015 by a friend who simply said "Hey, there's a book I read that I think you'd like called..." and since then I've read it cover to cover 4 times and read excerpts from it on maybe a monthly basis. I also went ahead and read every other book and letter that Steinbeck wrote basically just out of love and some odd literary devotion. I say all that because that love and devotion in the Christian proclamation is called the "Kerygma", the central proclamation of the interconnectedness of God's providence throughout history. Think of when Jesus walks with the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus in today's Gospel, He ties together the story and shows what and who love is. Also, think of the first reading from Acts of the Apostles when Peter gives his first big speech. Peter in his proclamation of the kerygma quotes from Isaiah, Joel, Psalms, and references many other sources to show that love has always been at work and is now here truly present in the person of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Pray with the Readings for Today
If you've looked at the readings for this week, they all read like people in love and looking at the world through the lens of love. Take a moment and think about someone you love, think about a time in your marriage, court-ship, or friendship that things were going well and there was a passion to your love. How did the world look then? How did you view and understand even the smallest actions of the one you loved? When we are "caught up" in love we all tend to think that the sun sets just for us as some sort of divine benediction on our life, we tend to think that the smallest glance and the simplest words are deep pools of meaning, and lastly we tend to want to tell people about it!
From the first reading through the Gospel today you have a story of THE GOOD, of virtue, and of love itself and it proves itself immortal and venerable. In the story of scripture the sun and SON do really set and rise in benediction of this story of love that you are caught up into. In the scriptural story, the simplest word, prophecy, or action will lead you into the deep waters of God's grace if you let it. This is an amazing true story, truly one to get wrapped up in, but most importantly what is at the heart of all of this is a person. A person whom we love. A person with a heart and a face and a history who loves us, up and down the ages and pages of scripture. Of course, we cannot help but talk about Jesus Christ.
Also please take the time to listen to Bishop Barron's wonderful homily for this Sunday. I know this sounds childish but he captured exactly what I wanted to say, so I'll let him say it and then I'll talk about a different aspect of this weekend's readings for my recorded message.