Gospel Thoughts, 4 March 2012, Transfiguration

February 29, 2012 at 10:42 2 comments


Today’s Gospel (Mark 9:2-10) Story is the Transfiguration. When Peter sees how things are on the mountaintop with Jesus, he wants to stay there and make it last. Jesus tells him they cannot stay there, but must continue on down the mountain with him.

There is a lot of commotion in today’s Church. Some want to build tents and stay on the mountain top, holding on to what they feel familiar and safe with. Some want to move on ahead and walk down the mountainside with Jesus. Many just don’t care anymore one way or the other, and have just walked away, because for them the church is irrelevant. This does not mean they are bad people, but that the Church is not meeting their needs.

Those who do not want change but want to get back to the way things were (the system) are fighting (an accurate word for what is happening these days) to build and fortify their tents and remain on the mountain top. The nature of a system is to protect and perpetuate itself by any means necessary. It uses weapons that have served it well in the past: threats, punishments, silencing, excommunicating, and claiming that anyone who does not agree with it is automatically wrong and violating its rights – whatever it takes to protect itself. It takes intractable and confrontational stands, demanding that any dialogue be on its terms only, and if it does not get what it wants, proclaims the dialogue to be unauthentic. It uses whatever means it can to stifle or crush any who do not toe its line, as is demonstrated by the system’s long history of “silencing” any who think independently. It is becoming ever more isolated from, and irrelevant to, an increasing number of the very folks it claims to lead. It is creating an atmosphere of fear, rejection, and polarization, which does not seem to appear anywhere in the Gospel Jesus taught. While those who are part of the system are not necessarily oblivious to the many folks just ignoring them or walking away, this does not seem to bother them. They proclaim a smaller and more “authentic” Church, and choose to ignore the many who have walked down from the mountain top to find Jesus at its foot. Why would anyone want to be part of an organization that treats folks in this way?

The folks who are walking down from the mountain top are looking for their own way through life. For some Jesus is a part of their journey, but for many he is not. Some have found that they do not need the system in order to live a satisfying life. It just doesn’t any meaning for them. Some  are still searching, and some have just left it all by the side of the road and are trying to do their best however they can. Of course they would be “welcomed back” to the system subject to certain conditions, few, if any, of which can be found in the Gospel.

Our Christian faith teaches that Jesus is with us always even until the end of time. Many of us have to find Jesus ourselves, because if he is in the system he is hard to find. The system seems to have placed itself between the folks and Jesus, saying, in effect, if you want to get to Jesus you have to do it through us and on our terms, because we are the only way. It seems from the Gospel that Jesus wanted his followers to live as he did, to follow his teachings and so be a beacon to folks, an example folks would want to emulate. Jesus did not threaten folks, excommunicate any who disagreed with him, refuse to be involved with folks who did not have approved lifestyles, but welcomed and loved everybody. He offered them his message, his Gospel, and left it to them whether or not to accept it. However they chose, he loved them. He had time for folks wherever they were and however they lived. He did not impose conditions on them before he spent time with them.

If we believe Jesus is walking down the mountain with us, might he not also be at the bottom inviting us to continue our journey? He said a number of times that his teaching would be the occasion of struggle, so might he not be calling us into and through the struggling that is going on these days? If we look ahead, might we become aware of him calling us forward, giving us the courage and strength for what we have to do, whatever that may be? We do not walk down the mountain alone by ourselves, but with each other, and with Jesus who would bring us together. The system no longer works, but we still need a community of folks trying to be together. Labels do not seem important, while taking care of each other and reaching out to others is.

While some might be able to speak in the name of their organization, none of us can speak “in the name of God”, because the God in whose name we would be speaking is the God we create for ourselves to help us get through life. There is one Absolute, and that is God. As we appropriate God for ourselves, things become relative, because we each perceive our needs in our own unique way, and model our god around these needs. This is obvious from even a cursory observation of various religious traditions today, many claiming to have the only way to salvation.

The Gospel is proclaimed and lived not in the setting of abstract principles, but among real flesh and blood people trying to live as best they can. The important thing is that each of us in our own way, and all of us somehow together, walk with Jesus down the mountain, doing our best to listen to him, ready to encounter whatever is awaiting us.

Jesus has said he is with his followers wherever they are. I hope he is with me. I am trying to sort out my own thoughts here. I suppose I have as many doubts and questions as anyone, if not more, and I know from my own experience that stock answers and the party line just don’t work. There is just too much going on these days, too many hurting folks, many of whom have been hurt by the very structures and systems and persons that proclaim themselves the unique source for help. In my self-centered narrow-mindedness, a key factor in my own journey, Jesus is real, but none of us has his whole Story. None of us has all the answers. There is always the urge to set up our tents, fortify them, and stay with what is familiar and safe, ignoring what is outside. But we have many different questions that come from our own unique journey through life, and so we feel we have to leave our safe tent and begin our journey down the mountain, hopefully with Jesus.

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

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim Dubik  |  March 1, 2012 at 14:37

    Jim,

    I really liked the ending. For me, it was a move away from a bipolarity you set up at the start and a mone toward community. Thanks.

    Jim

    Reply
  • 2. cherish Kulka  |  March 2, 2012 at 08:04

    Ok so you wrote my story of going through RCIA….do this or else you won’t get that…that was all I can remember hearing…how sad but true….
    Thanks for all your thoughts keep them coming
    Cherish

    Reply

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