Sunday, April 15, 2018

Rhetorical Questions. (2018-04-15, 3rd Sunday Easter)

3rd SUNDAY of Easter  15 April 2018,
•• Acts 3:13-15, 17-19  •• Psalm 4  •• 1 John 2:1-5a •• John 24:35-48  ••

Title:  “Rhetorical Questions”
[__01__  Are you kidding me?
Are you kidding me? Joking? These are examples of RHETORICAL QUESTION, question asked merely for to effect or emphasis with no answer expected.
          If Aaron Boone, baseball NY Yankees’ manager were displeased with an umpire’s call – or Villanova Coach Jay Wright with a referee’s whistle – each would say to the umpire-referee, “are you kidding me?” while not expecting an answer.
            There other such RHETORICAL QUESTIONS, such as … “Is the sky blue?” … “Is the Pope Catholic?”.
We say this to affirm that something is self-evidently true or, somehow, to ask the listener to reflect, meditate or be careful of what they may say or state next.
[__02__  Jesus asked his disciples this RHETORICAL QUESTION:
          “Why are you troubled?” (Luke 24:38)
          This question is not a request for them to explain themselves [with all their reasons to be troubled after Good Friday – arrest, put to death … resurrection but not sure what this means] but rather to examine themselves.
          He said he was going to rise. And, now he is sending out his disciples, you, me to announce his Resurrection.
          “Why are you troubled?” is an ratification and reminder of the Resurrection, of the joy that Jesus has risen as he said.

[__03__  Now, you’re saying.. You know what, Fine… But, in real life, when someone asks you are or me … “why are you troubled?”, we often would like to answer that question if indeed we are troubled.
          But, sometimes, it’s a RHETORICAL QUESTION.
          E.g., a teacher in classroom or a basketball coach with his or team. Both of them may face a group of students – or players --  who think that either the Periodic Table of the Elements or a Full-court press are impossible… students/players are dazed and confused for so long, turns to them and says, “Why are you troubled?”
          But he or she is really saying  you do not have to answer that… just “pay attention.”

[__04__]     “Why are you troubled?”
          In dialogue and prayer with Jesus, we might ask ourselves this question.  Why am I troubled? Why are your troubled?
          We might see this as an invitation to describe all the sources of difficulty such as being troubled by --  [REJECTION] … [WORKLOAD] … [UNCERTAINTY] … [INSUFFICIENCY] … [DISHONESTY] … …
[__05__   So, in prayer, we can answer the RHETORICAL QUESTION very specifically.
            However, I suggest the Lord was not asking for list of lamentation from his disciples. He asked them – and you and me – why are you troubled?
            As an example, I might say that I am troubled because I was “rejected” . All of us have experienced some form of rejection.   But, are we able not only to say… that I am troubled because I was rejected..but simply to say… I am troubled because I “feel rejected.”
            Saying I feel rejected is a humble place to start. Saying I was rejected might just be an angry place to remain.
            That’s just one example.
            In a similar way, Jesus does not ask the disciples why they ran away and at the crisis of Good Friday. There were reasons to flee… he wants to know in their hearts – in our hearts – what is troubling them still.
[__06__  On Friday April 13, I attended a lecture conducted to honor the life and political career of New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne, governor of New Jersey 1974-1982 and parishioner and friend to Our Lady of Lourdes always.
            So, for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon, in a lecture hall at Princeton University – the Governor’s alma mater – a few judges and attorneys who worked for him discussed his career.  The speakers included John Degnan who also is from LOURDES school and LOURDES parish. You’ll be proud to know he represented us well.
            You’ll also be pleased that I sat in my theater seat for a couple of hours and did not say a word. And, you’re thinking … what a relief. He didn’t talk. You’re NOT troubled by that at all.
            It was a discussion of what Governor Byrne did for the environment, for the state treasury and schools and a few references to the Meadowlands and stadiums and sports authority which was one of his projects.
            At one point, the state of NJ or Newark Airport was in a negotiation with Alitalia Airlines about something. And, these Italian executives thought the Governor’s full name was not “Brendan Byrne” but “Brendan Byrne-a-rina”. You have to be over 40 to get that.

[__07__   Each of the speakers mentioned ways in which they both harmonized and clashed over the years.
            One told of a very personal example of how he had experienced Governor’s  “rejection” at one point. It happened in 1977. He was telling the story on Friday.
            I thought .. wow .. you are on this stage – at Princeton. You were elected to Congress (multiple times) the U.S. Senate (multiple times), you’re successful… you’re retired now. And you felt snubbed / rejected for 4 decades.  And, finally – last year, someone invited you – sort of dragged you into it…to make you “reconcile” with Byrne last year. Sometimes, we also need help with such things, to examine our hearts, and ask ourselves “why are you troubled / why I am troubled…” and to experience Easter joy, to know that…   Jesus is the stone rejected by the builders who has become the cornerstone and it is wonderful in our eyes. This the day the Lord has made, let us be glad and rejoice in it.    [__fin__ 

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