Gospel Thoughts 23 January 2011

January 21, 2011 at 12:51 Leave a comment

In today’s Gospel Story (Matthew 4:12-23) Jesus tells the people to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, and he calls people to follow him. Repentance is a big thing for Jesus not because we are bad people, because we aren’t. He urges us to repent because while we do not know who we really are – consequences of a thought in the mind of God – he does know, and he wants to teach us, but he can’t do this without our consent and cooperation.

“Repent” means to change where we look for our happiness, how we think. Change is uncomfortable. We want to stay as we are. We have become comfortable with how we think, with our values and the order they give to our life. In the religious perspective we have become familiar with the usual rites, definitions, answers, ways of thinking, and have made them the basis of our religious persona. Religion is something we do and that reinforces who we are, so we feel safe and in control. Questioning any of these seems unsafe, perhaps disobedient or disloyal. Yet Jesus calls us to repent, to change how we think, or, often, don’t think. He does not call us to be comfortable, or to believe the right things about him, but to go with him and grow.

Often we are afraid to question what has been handed down to us by others – our parents, school, church, etc. We feel such questioning or doubting is wrong. Yet God gives us an intellect. When we question something we take ownership of our thoughts, and so we grow. When we choose to believe in Jesus, not just about Jesus, and reinforce our choice with a regular practice of prayer, this act of faith and the deepening relationship that comes with it enlighten our intellect, and so we grow. Yet while we are growing as persons, our notions about God often do not grow with us. At every stage of our growth through life we need to question the meaning and implications of our values and traditions so they can bring more depth and richness to our life. Without this questioning, they become remote from our daily living, and the kingdom of God degenerates into a nice idea without any real relevance for us, instead of a relationship with God and each other that is an integral part of how we are created.

Also in the Story Jesus calls his first disciples. The leave what they are doing and follow him. When we let the Story give us some insight and context to what is going on in our own life, we come to realize that Jesus calls us time and time again to change, to grow, to question, to take charge of how we choose to live. As we respond to his calls in the setting of our choice to believe in him we come to sense that we are always supported by grace, God’s love happening in and around us. Everything we do, every relationship we are in, is a call from grace to grow, always doing our best in whatever we are facing, always rooted in our prayer practice whatever it may be. And so the call to repent comes over and over again, and we can choose to leave what we are familiar and safe with, and follow him wherever he calls us.

The kingdom of heaven is among us right where we are, and each of us has a necessary and important role to play in it. When we choose to grow, to come into touch with its richness, to move in whatever direction grace calls us, all this becomes a bit clearer. It rarely becomes easy or safe. Sometimes we just have to take a chance.



Entry filed under: Catholic, Gospel thoughts, Priest.

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