The Higgs boson particle and the wisdom of Jesus

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Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily 

Did you hear or read this past week about the Higgs boson particle?

Scientists believe they have discovered the Higgs boson,
a subatomic particle which helps explain
how all matter in the universe has mass,
size and shape and weight,
how things come to be and how things exist.

Truth be told:
I have no idea what I’m talking about here!

But it strikes me that as science delves ever deeper
into the mysteries of the universe
from the depths of the subatomic to the endless reaches of space,
I’m still standing here telling stories about a 1st century carpenter
from a small town called Nazareth
who preached the mercy of God and, for that, was crucified.

Am I crazy for doing this?
Are you crazy for listening?

Do these ancient scriptures have anything to say
to people who live in the 21st century?

Jesus wasn’t very much honored in his own home town,
in his own day:
does it make sense for us to honor him in Concord,
2,000 years later?

Are we naive to esteem the wisdom of Jesus
based on our belief that he rose from the dead?

Is there any compatibility between the news of the Higgs boson particle
and living according to the gospel?

I believe there is and I believe that
even though I don’t know a Higgs boson from my elbow.

One of the happiest moments of my high school career
was the day I convinced my guidance counselor
that I should take “Problems in Democracy” instead of Physics.

I’m neither well enough educated in the sciences nor bright enough
to understand the meaning of subatomic particles.
On the other hand, I don’t understand gravity, either,
but I live by its law.
 And so did Jesus who also didn’t take high school physics.

Scientific discoveries are important
because they help us understand the world we live in,
the world God gave us.
What Jesus offers helps us understand how to live in that world.

The wisdom of Jesus was around long before
we discovered the law of gravity
and the wisdom of Jesus will be there
long after the Higgs boson is just a footnote in science.

The wisdom of Jesus speaks to the people of every age
because his wisdom speaks to the human heart
and its deep longing to love, and to be loved;
the heart’s desire to know its Lover
and to experience being the Beloved;
the wisdom of Jesus speaks to the heart’s restless ache
for union with the Other whose face we will not know
until that union is complete.

The wisdom of Jesus speaks to that within the soul
which is pure spirit, without particles of any kind,
a spirit already alive and astir within us who, like Jesus,
will one day die and, we believe, rise to new life.

Although I don’t much understand the Higgs boson
I rejoice in its discovery because it means we’ve uncovered
even a little bit more of the mystery of the world we live.

But I rejoice more deeply every time the Lord speaks to us
in these ancient texts
and every time his wisdom reaches the depths of our hearts
and shapes and changes us,
at the depths of our being.

And I rejoice every time we gather at this table
and offer bread and wine, the matter for our sacrament,
gifts that have particles: size, shape and weight.

And I rejoice in our believing that the very Spirit of God
makes of what we offer a Gift infinitely greater than every particle
in our bread and wine:
the Spirit makes of our gifts the Body and Blood of the risen Jesus
and in our communion with him and one another
he feeds us with his soul and his divinity.

The Book of Proverbs (a text even more ancient than the gospel)
reminds us:
Wisdom has built herself a house
and has spread her table.
She calls out,
Come, eat of my food,
and drink of the wine I have mixed! 
Forsake foolishness that you may live…
The wisdom of Jesus is nourishment in every age.
Pray that here, we might forsake our own foolishness
and continue to discover and live
the inexhaustible and timeless wisdom of Jesus,
the Word of God made flesh
and shared with us at this altar.

Note: Two of my recent daily prayer posts have themes related to today's scriptures: the weakness/strength motif in the 2nd Corinthians text and wisdom in the gospel from Mark.  You might want to refer to those two posts as you reflect on today's scriptures for the Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.


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  1. Higgs boson, to me
    how we treat one another each day,
    in Jesus' Name,

  2. Higgs boson meaningless? With out particle physics you wouldn't have a lot of medical science including x-rays, PET scans, isotropes for cancer treatments, MIR and not to mention the world wide web was invented there just to name a few. So you should care because its important, ignorant and blind is no way to live.

    Science will cure diseases not prayer. Put your money and faith into reality for once.


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