Gospel Thoughts 20 June 2010

June 17, 2010 at 19:05 Leave a comment


In today’s Gospel Story for the 12th Sunday of the Year (Luke 9:18-24) Jesus asks his disciples two questions: “Who do people say I am?”, “Who do you say I am?” They answer the first question by quoting the traditional title of the messiah: “Some say Moses, Elijah, one of the prophets”. Peter answers the second: “You are the Messiah of God”.

The people saw Jesus in terms of the past, the predictable, the understandable, the useful. They would fit him into their study and thinking, their hopes and plans, a means of getting what they wanted – political freedom from Rome. They would decide for themselves what they would accept.  The disciples saw Jesus in terms of their intimate experience with him, of knowing him in his private time with his father. Because of the time they spent with him, they knew him in a way others could not. He had begun to touch them in their deepest selves.

The two answers show different ways of knowing Jesus, the difference, perhaps, between knowing the maps and guidebooks on a city and walking the city’s streets and meeting the people. There is the inherent danger of appropriating God unto ourselves, of thinking that our image of God is the only correct one for everybody always, and so God becomes for us a source of power and control. In his name, so we say, we judge others as to whether they agree with us, and punish them if they do not. Therefore we can justify anything we do, because we act in God’s name.

The first answer might be that of people who have studied and analyzed Jesus. They believe the right things about him, but they do not know him on a deeply personal and intimate level. He is dogmas, not a relationship. They have found a webpage that makes them feel comfortable and in control. The disciples, on the other hand, have encountered him, and have entered into a deep and intimate relationship with him. They have come to know him. Their relationship with him is becoming the focal point of their lives, affecting everything they do.

Jesus responds to Peter by teaching the disciples the implications of following him: as he is going to suffer, so must his disciples. The world cannot accept that he will not fit into their plans, so they will try to destroy him. His disciples will have to lose their life for his sake, that part of themselves that for the world is so important, what Christian writers call the ‘false self’. This puts context into so much of what we see around us, when God by many names is seen as a tool, a means to an end, in whose name so much cruelty is imposed on others.

Those of us who truly would be Jesus’ followers are called to imitate the disciples, to let Jesus draw us into a relationship with him that will lead us to know him as they did. Perhaps this might be the gift we offer our world and society these days wherever we are – knowing Christ quietly and doing our best to let ourselves be drawn to live the rest of our day with him, letting him guide us, always ready for the unexpected happening of grace. We live in faith, sometimes with doubt about what and where our next step is, eager to do our best and trusting there is more. Our shortcomings and doubts are gifts, and our efforts to be open to Christ are part of our cross. Christ does not call us to know, but to believe, to trust. He does not fit into our plans. He brings us deeper into his plans.

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Entry filed under: Catholic, Gospel thoughts, Priest.

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