Brothers and Sisters:
A few days ago I was spending time with our youngest daughter Julie at our house and she asked me if I knew the scripture 2 Cor 4:16. I wish I could say I had committed it to memory, but it wasn’t ringing a bell. Here it is:
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, RSV-CE)
Julie said- “That is a meaningful scripture to me”. It was a beautiful moment for me as a father to witness “my baby” open to God’s revelation to her. I told Julie she just gave me the topic for my letter this week!
2 Cor Chapter 4 is an exhortation by Paul to the Corinthians, to hold lightly the results of our faithful witness and its accompanying suffering since it is not us that reveals God to a fallen world, but the Lord Himself. Paul refers to believers as “treasure in earthen vessels”- to show that surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. It was an exhortation that while we may do our best to live Holy and moral lives, our witness, and our efforts to spread the Gospel are imperfect and ineffective in our own strength. Verse 5 says:
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus Sake”
I watched some of the Senate confirmation hearings of associate Justice nominee Amy Coney Barrett this week. I think American women have a new role model! Judge Barrett, although brilliant in the study of the law and capable technically of fulfilling her duties as a Supreme Court Justice, had the light of Holy Spirit witnessing through her far more than her legal knowledge did to those Senators, and those watching the process at home. I do not believe Judge Barrett gave direct testimony to her love of Jesus; I don’t think she quoted scripture or spoke directly about her Charismatic Catholic spirituality. But once again as Paul said in 2 Cor 4:5
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus Sake”.
Serving her country was an expressed desire she shared in her opening remarks. Some look at her yes to submitting to a severe and unpleasant process as “sacrificial”. Bishop Sheen reminds us that
“Love is the Soul of Sacrifice. Everything in nature testifies to this; the deer that fights for it’s fawn, the bird that toils for her nestlings, the spider that would die instead of dropping her bag of eggs.. The day that man forgets that love is identical with sacrifice, he will ask how a God of love could demand mortification and self-denial. (Excerpted from “Gods World and our Place in it”).
Love of country stirs up what the world would call bravery of a soldier to lay down his life. Love of God compels some to forsake the joys of family and marriage to become priests, nuns and pursue religious vocations. Judge Barrett I believe showed America that her Love for the Lord drew her into a yes that promised great personal sacrifice. What did Jesus tell those that follow Him?
And he said to all, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23-25, RSV-CE)
Brothers and sisters, most if not all of you reading this letter will never be called to a high office like the Supreme Court. but we are called to proclaim Jesus as Lord where God has put us. According to witness after witness, Judge Barrett was a “light in the darkness” to countless people she worked with as an appellate Judge and in her teaching at Notre Dame. It appears she was a model of what Paul describes in verse 5 as a “Servant for Jesus Sake”.
Having friends in People of Praise, I have been told that the Barrett and Coney families are long time fixtures in their communities in South Bend and in Louisiana. The Culture of the Holy Spirit that pervades covenant communities and the call to live intentionally for the Lord with Jesus at the center of our lives, bears much fruit, even if it doesn’t seem like it at times. I used the example of Judge Barrett as an exhortation that our way of life in City of the Lord bears fruit that we may never be able to measure. In those early days of the renewal and Covenant Community, did any of our founders think we would have a Supreme Court Justice come out of our life? This should give us hope that the Lord will continue to use the fruit of our life to build His kingdom, in so far as we are obedient to the call he has given us, and always remember that the Glory belongs to Him and not to ourselves.