Luke 9:7-9  Perplexed
Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, “John has been raised from the dead”; others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”; still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”  But Herod said, “John I beheaded.  Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
Herod looked perplexed.  He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  Things were not as self-evident as he thought they were.  After all, he had killed The Baptist.  That should have been the end of the story.  Never did he ever imagine that it was the beginning of the story.
Not too long ago, I gave a talk at a Catholic school.  To my “Catholic” audience, I told them that if they wished to ever be a better Christian, then they must learn to think logically and live “illogically”.  Of course my young audience was a little perplexed, but I went on to explain how they must constantly be searching for the truth, in a very logical and structured way, but continue to live like Christ, who spoke and lived in a very “illogical” or “paradoxical” way. 
I then went on to explain to them the failures of atheism.  How atheism is nothing more than a backhanded slap on the face of God and more of a frontal attack on wonder and faith.  For the atheist, nothing is surprising, not even evil; nothing is beautiful, not even love; nothing is exciting, not even life.  It is all what it was supposed to be.  It is as thrilling and as amazing as dissecting a worm.    
For them, everything is self-evident…except for The Everything!  They say, “Of course the Universe exists, duh?!  What did you expect?”  Or, “Of course an apple falls from a tree.  It’s all based on the laws of physics!” …It’s as if the laws of atoms were like the laws of governments…not made but self-evident.
An atheist prides himself on believing only what he can see, and not what others have seen, which to him means everyone is sick (or blind and deformed).  It could never mean that he may be sick (or blind and deformed). 
Atheism is not only a denial of God; it is a denial of humanity, for to be a man means to be blessed in believing the unbelievable.  My dear atheist friend, you cannot be an atheist because you were conceived out of nothing!  Do you yet not understand?  Man is not only capable of believing what he cannot see but what he can dream, which allows him to eventually realize his dreams.   If he did not dream the impossible dream, then he would forever remain a prisoner in the land of what-you-see-is-what-you-have.  This man is insane, for he sees only what is there and thinks only what is humanly reasonable and observable.  If the world were truly what he could only observe, then the world would be as big as his head: small.
But no atheist ever believed himself.  No atheist will ever tell you that we have discovered everything that exists.  He knows there is still much more to discover; that there is much more that exists.  But for the sake of argument, he pretends to think we have discovered everything and that God does not exist.
Well… the reason why I mention all of this is for the fact that after I spoke, I had a student come up to me and ask me politely never speak about atheism again.  I asked the student why?  She told me that she felt insulted by what I had said.  Now, I must say I was taken aback a little by what she said since I was speaking in a school, in a Catholic school, and in the United States of America – a nation that prides itself on freedom of speech.  I was a little surprised that someone would propose censorship rather than scholarship. 
Now my response surprised the student as much as it surprised me.  I went back to Christianity.  I went back to the paradox of our faith.  I told the young student that what I had said was far less important to me than she was to me.  I told her that I would respect her wish for the time being. 
My response surprised her.  In fact, I think she was stunned, perplexed, at what I had said.  And maybe, just maybe, for the first time in her young atheist life, nothing and no one was as self-evident as her.  Maybe, just maybe, someone no longer fit in her head.

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Fr. Alfonse (972 Posts)