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Living in Awe

Adrienne Murphy, Pastoral Council Member
Adrienne Murphy, Pastoral Council Member
November 4, 2022

Faith is hard. As a data analyst who spends hours each day in the world of formulas and logic, I feel most comfortable in situations where I can rationalize my way into the “right answer.” But often, in my faith life, this dependence on reason leaves me wanting.  How can I begin to understand what it means for God to be both three persons and yet one God? How is it possible that each Sunday we watch as mere bread is transformed into Christ’s body—despite the fact that it still looks, smells, and tastes exactly the same? Years of religious education classes have helped me unpack Church teaching on these thorny questions, but my reliance on logic often leaves me frustrated. Perhaps, in this way, I’m not so different from the Sadducees in this Sunday’s Gospel.

In this weekend’s Gospel reading, the Sadducees throw a real zinger of a question in Jesus’s direction in an attempt to demonstrate the complete irrationality of his teachings. In today’s parlance, maybe it would have sounded something more like, “how in the world can this Heaven thing that you proclaim be real? I mean, if a woman marries each of 7 brothers, who will she spend forever with in Heaven?” My first thought?… Good question!

But it’s only a good question if we rely on logic.  Jesus’s answer urges the Sadducees—and all of us—to realize that logic can only take us so far. We cannot fathom the answer to the Sadducees’ question, because the reality of Heaven exceeds human comprehension. There are times when we must come to terms with the fact that we will never fully understand and that we must live in awe.

At no point in my life has the need to live in awe been clearer to me than in these last few months as an expectant mom. As we watched our daughter squirm around via ultrasound last week, the technician pointing out all of her tiny organs, I could not help but feel an immense sense of awe. I’ve read about the science behind what’s going on inside of me, and yet there is something about this process that feels simply magical—something beyond my own human comprehension.

As we enter this season of gratitude, leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, my wish for each member of our Paulist Center Community is that we each can find something that defies rationalization and allows us to live in awe, even just for a few moments. Maybe it’s a last flower bud that has survived well into the November chill or the smile of a stranger on the T just when you need it the most—excuses to live in awe are all around us, if only we take a moment to see them!