Earlier this week, Mike Lindell, who is the guy who’s commercials are on 24/7 about Pillows was in the news. He was at the White House during one of the daily press briefings about the coronavirus pandemic and the government response. Lindell when he got to the podium shared a few words about his belief that our nation had turned its back on God by taking Him out of our schools, out of our lives as a nation and encouraging people during this time where so many are being forced to be at home, to get in touch with God’s word – to read the bible and spend time with family. Almost on cue, media personalities, journalists, reporters, celebrities all ran to twitter to mock the man, mock his presence and definitely mock his views.
They conveniently ignored the reason he was there… He had converted his factories, in record time to shift from making pillows and bedding to produce what he hopes will be over 50,000 masks a day especially to assist health care workers who are on the front lines in this fight against the pandemic. No one asked (or demanded) him or his business to do this. What motivated him to volunteer to mobilize his business and utilize all his resources to help our nation at a critical moment is his faith in Jesus Christ. Lindell doesn’t forget how at his lowest point in life when he had been a crack addict – that Jesus saved him, Jesus transformed Him to turn his life around and build an incredibly successful business from scratch. That encounter, that experience changed Mike Lindell forever and so he wants to put his faith into action. Yet, what was “trending” was people looking to dismiss the man and his works…
It seems harsh and ridiculous on a lot of levels – but not foreign or new. We see and hear that in the gospel today. The drum beats to the unjust arrest, trial, passion and death of Jesus has gotten louder each day this week in our scripture readings at Mass. Today the anger and hatred towards Jesus is at a boiling point. With rocks in their hands they are getting ready to stone Him. If we back it up though, what’s there biggest gripe? What was the final straw for many of them? That He performs miracles – mind blowing, authentic miracles that heal, that restore, that transform people who were suffering on the Sabbath – a day when work was forbidden, a day that was reserved for God.
It’s not just the work itself – it’s the difference that Jesus makes. Because in doing this, He’s not just doing a nice thing for some poor person down on their luck. He’s telling them that their concept of God – their understanding of what it means to be in right relationship with Him (and not in right relationship with Him) has been limited. They are missing that the same God and father who laid the foundations of the earth, who had spoken to Moses in a burning bush, had parted the red sea and led the Jews to freedom, has been drawing closer and closer to them. Now with Jesus’ arrival, He wanted to work in their lives not just as a nation, but in each and every persons own personal life. That God wanted to build foundations in their individual lives, that he wanted to speak no longer in burning bushes but in each of their hearts; that he wanted to part the seas of sinfulness, wash them clean and give them a new birth as His own beloved sons and daughters.
The problem then – the problem today is that fundamentally this is a dividing line – where we have to admit who’s ultimately in charge. For the Jews of Jesus’ time they believed God had given them control… God had left them in charge…He wanted them to run things (conveniently ignoring what a utter mess they were in at that moment) For the critics of our time, the idea of God is rejected. The thought that we’re not the center of the universe and that we’re not completely in control of things (which would seem to be verified by the fact that we have a pandemic going on, but I digress) is threatening… and something that people mock, reject and dismiss.
Jesus is unwavering – He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He will lay down His life for that claim… Confident that the victory of Easter will vindicate this truth. No doubt about it, this is a dividing line for sure. What side are we on?