Gospel Thoughts 14 November 2010

November 3, 2010 at 10:37 Leave a comment


In today’s Gospel Story (Luke 21:5-19) the people were talking about their beautiful temple, a foundation of their life and worship. Jesus warns them that it will be torn down and destroyed, and that will bring a tumultuous time for them. This certainly seems to be a metaphor for what is going on these days in our church with all its problems and challenges, as well as acrimonious divisions. An insight might be suggested by Pope Benedict when he made one of the most profound theological statements thus far in the millennium: “Every one of us is the consequence of a thought in the mind of God; every one of us is important, every one of us is necessary, none of us is an accident”. Basically these words tell us that, in the providence of God, each of us is here at this time and place in history because it is where we have to be. A corollary is that the Holy Spirit is moving among us. It would seem though, that as in the Pentecost Story, some elements have “locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the people”, when the Holy Spirit hit the scene we all know what happened. This begs the question, what are we supposed to do right here and right now? How active or passive is grace calling us to be?  This is something each of us has to discover for ourselves, and we need time and effort in prayer and scripture to do it.

There seem to be some options. Do we try to fit into a mold that has been handed down to us through centuries, or do we try prayerfully to consider what the Gospel is calling us to right here and now. We are church because each of us in some way and in varying degrees believes that God loving us became real in Jesus and we want to make our desire for his love real and personal here and now by trying to follow Jesus in company with others who share our belief. Either way, it seems that our temple is starting to fall apart, and we are experiencing the commotion Jesus warned would happen. Some of us take part in Mass regularly, some of us don’t. For many of us religion is a spectator sport. This has nothing to do with being good persons. By the fact that we exist we are good since God keeps us in existence through sharing his life with us. A consequence of this is that God is in every one of us and all of us. Where we go with this in our own life is something each of us has to decide or choose not to decide. Each of us is just trying to make our own path through life as best we can, and often we have not seen too much in religion that impresses us as worthwhile. We might be concerned about how persons whose lifestyle, values, gender, or thinking differ from the way our temple was built, how they are thrown out, restricted, or silenced. We might worry that we are throwing out the same people Jesus ate and socialized with. Are we protecting the temple from the people?

An interesting factor worth noting is the world of science. Recent scientific discoveries point to a unity and interdependence in everything. This opens us to a new and deeper concept of prayer and God and the unfolding wonder of creation and our place in it. Where this is going we might not be sure, but it is exciting. As we are becoming aware of this unity and interdependence within creation, we might be inclined to ask what this says about what we are seeing in religion? It seems we are trying to rebuild our temple by kicking out any who think different from our approved concepts and terms. What does this say about the unity and interdependence science is pointing out to us? Truth is one, and there are many ways to approach truth – science and religion being some. They do not contradict each other, but show some different facets of the whole.

The Story might hint at what happens to any who question how the temple is put together and ask whether it might be better to approach the Architect about different approaches. Jesus goes on to say, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives”. Especially these days our own prayer practice takes on an ever greater importance for our everyday lives as we try to live in openness to Jesus and go wherever this takes us. As we continue on our journey, we might find this Story playing itself out within ourselves, since we have a lot of “adjusting” to do ourselves. As we pray on the Opening Prayer, “Help us to drink of his truth and expand our hearts with the joy of his promises so that we may serve you in faith and in love and know forever the joy of your presence”. Our history is filled with people who questioned the structure of the temple, and often they did not fare very well with the temple guard.

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Gospel Thoughts 7 November 2010 Gospel Thoughts 14 November 2010, #2

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