While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah…At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”
“Mammals!” That was the response I got from a fifth grader a few days ago when I asked the question, “If humans are not animals, then what are they?”
I was shocked to say the least, especially because I was speaking to a group of Catholic school kids. I told the child, “You would have been closer to the right answer if you had said ‘Aliens!’”
Yes, I believe we are aliens more so than mammals. I asked these kids, “Do you know any creature on the face of the earth other than human beings that shake from laughter, hide their thoughts out of shame, write poetry, compose songs, write novels, sit in chairs, wear clothes, eat in restaurants, tell stories, tell lies, commit sins, make lifetime commitments, fall in love, act in plays, tell jokes, laugh hysterically, fly in planes and drive cars?” Of course I could have gone on and on, but the child interrupted me and said, “Well beavers use rocks to break open shells .” I asked him, “Do you do that?” He smiled and finally got it. “Well then”, he said, “I guess we are aliens.”
No one seems to complain that science books reduce life to skin and bones, or unscientifically and blatantly ignore those things that make humans look more like aliens. How can scientists keep a straight face when they make the ridiculous claim that the earth is obviously another planet? For all those who think, the obvious is quite different: our planet doesn't work like all the others out there!
So many kids have a remarkably hard time piecing together the sciences (like Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics) but find it remarkably breath-taking to find it all pieced together. It is enlightening how our mind can perceive that which the eyes cannot see.
I think it is safe to say that we all find it incredibly difficult to understand how the human brain works, but at the same time find it as common sense to understand that it was understood and designed long before it ever came to be!
We all have a tendency to shove people into categories and chambers, even gas chambers! We do it because it is easy to do and it’s an inexpensive way to hide or destroy someone. It’s far easier to hate someone than to understand them; it takes less time to do. It’s easier to call out people by their politics then to call them out by name. It’s easier to put a label on people then to know them by heart. It’s so much easier to be Anti-Catholic than to be truly Catholic. It is so much easier to hate a Christian than to criticize a Muslim, for it is a lot easier to slap another cheek than to lose your very own head! Ah yes, it’s easy to call Pope Benedict a Nazi because it’s impossible for him to deny his nationality or birthday. It’s easy to call Pope Benedict an idiot, when you cannot attack his PhDs. It’s easy for us to call all priests pedophiles, because it’s harder to admit that the overwhelming majority of them are far more selfless than our selfish selves!
The Lord would not allow himself to fall into any category. He would not allow himself to be reduced to a Jew, a zealot, a prophet, a man, a madman or a King. Friends and enemies both knew that the Lord was far bigger than any of their man made categories or schemes.
The Lord of life did not come into the world to fit inside a man made mold. He came into the world and broke all our molds. And the greatest mold he broke was a man made tomb! For this reason, he is not just someone greater. The Lord is the Lord of life and death.
Lent is the perfect time to start breaking the molds that entrap us by humbling ourselves before God.