Gospel Thoughts 1 January 2012

December 31, 2011 at 12:34 Leave a comment


In today’s Gospel Story (Luke 2:16-21) Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart”. This Story suggests to us that reflecting on these things in our heart is an important part of trying to be a disciple of Jesus, to learn from him. Trying to learn from Jesus does not involve blind acceptance of what others tell us, but going beyond this continually to question, to reflect on these things in our heart, wondering what they mean for us here and now on our journey.

If we are serious about learning from Jesus, we have to question his Stories and teaching. What does a given Story or teaching say to us today in the concrete situations of our life? How does his lifestyle then call us to live today? If Jesus in his day reached out to folks who were considered unclean, sinners, outcasts, what does this say to us about our relationships with folks considered to be the same in our own day? When Jesus confronted the authorities about their unjust and uncompassionate treatment of folks in his day, what does this say to us about folks treated the same way by religious authority in our day? When Jesus included both men and women, and all kinds of folks, in his ministry to spread his Father’s love, what does this say to us in our own day when such is not the case?

When we question and ponder Jesus’ teachings in our own life, we do so with an attitude of eager and trusting respect. We want to learn from him without telling him exactly what it is that we want to learn, and we believe he really will show us. He is the Teacher, we are the disciples, the students. There is much hurt and suffering done in his name these days. We have to ask him if this is what he really wants us to do in his name in our lives. He treated everyone with loving respect, even if the structures of his day did not. If he is calling us to do the same among the folks we encounter today, how does he want us to do it, even if the structures of our day do not?

When Jesus criticized religious leaders in his day for treating the folks with less than compassion and understanding, what does this say to us in our day, when folks who seek to ask question or raise doubts are seen by an institution as disobedient and are threatened by the institution with the loss of their soul? As if any institution really had such power, even one that, in practice, claims to have all the answers for everybody always. When Jesus freely entered into discussions with folks about sensitive topics, eg the Samaritan Woman, what does this say to us when in our day some in leadership would tell us what we can and cannot think, what we can and cannot talk about? Jesus did not seek power, so what does this say to us today when in certain segments of his followers power is a defining issue, and abuses of power are increasingly obvious? Jesus invited folks to open themselves to his Father’s love. What does this say to us in our day when loyalty to an institution is seen to be more important than any other relationship with Jesus, or when the institution presents itself as the only means to a relationship with Jesus, or, instead of being a symbol or example of God’s loving compassion, an institution portrays itself as the only means of receiving God’s loving compassion?

If we are going to question Jesus and his teachings, we need to have a close relationship with him. No one can have this relationship for us. We have to find out for ourselves what Jesus is calling us to in our own life. We are part of a long tradition, and we can learn from it, but we have to make our own choices. We need a lifestyle where prayer in its various forms is an important part of our everyday living. We need to be familiar with his words, Stories, and teaching, not only studying them, but also praying them, pondering them, questioning them in an attitude of trusting openness. As Jesus’ time with his Father was an important part of his life, so our time with Jesus has to be an important part of our life.

Finally, as it was for Mary, our pondering and questioning of Jesus’ life and its relationship with our life may lead us to difficult places. He did tell us that if we want to be his followers we have to take up our cross every day and follow him. We have to ask what this really means for us. What we pray for is the wisdom to know in some way just what he is asking, and the courage to do what he may be calling us to do. This might be a good way to begin a new year.

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Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Gospel thoughts, Priest, thoughts.

28 November 2011, Thoughts on the New Missal, etc Gospel Thoughts, 8 January 2012, Epiphany

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