Thursday, January 15, 2015

What Do You Think Of Jesus?

January 15, 2015
Thursday of week 1 in Ordinary Time
 Click here for the complete text of today’s readings

What Do You Think Of Jesus?
Oh, that today you would hear his voice.

After Jesus cured the leper, the man “spread the report so far and wide that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.”

They came, but for the wrong reason. They wanted Jesus to free them from physical and emotional suffering. When they finally realized that Jesus was not going to be that kind of Messiah, all their expectation turned into disappointment, their disappointment into disillusionment, and their disillusionment into rage. Then the same ones who had escorted him into Jerusalem, shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” turned against him and screamed out to Pilate, “Away with him! Crucify him!” (Matthew 21:19; John 19:5).

Let’s not be too quick to judge. How many today have turned away from Jesus, though without screaming for his death, because they didn't find in him what they expected?

Who dares to judge a mother who wants nothing more to do with God because he let her baby die? Or an impoverished wife and mother who cannot divorce her abusing, alcoholic husband because she has no one to turn to? Where is Jesus for her?

Can we even judge those who have stopped coming to Mass because they “just got nothing out of it”? Granted, most of then weren't putting anything into it either. But whose fault was that? The young and inexperienced in faith have the right to expect to be “turned on” by the obvious absorption of the presider and assembly in the mystery of Jesus offering himself—and inviting all to offer themselves with him and in him—as his sacrifice on Calvary is made present in the Mass. But too often, what they see and hear on both sides of the altar is apathy and routine responses. Then they turn away from Jesus offering himself for them on the cross, because it never even enters their minds to imagine what is going on.

Judging others is not what this is about. We need to judge ourselves. Why are we coming to Jesus? What do others perceive as our reason for going to Mass? What impression does our level of participation give?

And what does our lifestyle say? Is it obvious—in everything we say and do—that we are aware of our mystical union with Jesus as his living body on earth? Do people at least see there is something different about us, even if they can’t identify what it is? What do people see we have found that gives them a motive to look for it where we do?

Do we live lives characterized by reading and reflecting on the word of God? Is it obvious from our conversation that we have heard good news and are exploring it? Are we as wrapped up in the life-giving words of Jesus as dozy teenagers are in the words of unenlightened rap? Does our interest or lack of interest in the Bible even offer a credible alternative to the mental stupor of the pop stars?

We are not about judging others. But we need to judge ourselves—and by the fundamental question that gives the key to every human life: “What do you think about the Christ?” (Matthew 22:42).

We find and give the answer to that question in the way we interact with him.

Do I choose to look for what Jesus came to give?

Pray: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean. Reveal your heart to me.”

Practice: Interact with Jesus in everything you do. Practice until you learn how.

Discuss: What are you looking for from your religion? How are you finding it?

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