Saturday, January 17, 2015

Would You "Hang Out" With Jesus?

  The Christmas Feasts are over and we return for a while (until Lent) to ordinary time, the ordered cycle of Sundays which call us to reflect on the many dimensions of our following of Jesus.  Fittingly enough we begin at the beginning of Jesus ministry. He has been baptized in the Jordan and now He sets about calling his first disciples, Andrew and Simon Peter.

   This year we have the version of that call given to us by John. (John 1:35-42) In the synoptic Gospels Jesus calls them to leave their nets and follow Him.  John gives us another dimension of this call. In John,  Andrew and another disciple overhear John the Baptist's "Behold the Lamb of God" statement and followed Jesus.  Jesus asks what they are looking for.  They ask Him, "Where are you staying?"  Jesus' answer is "Come, and you will see."  We are then told that they spent a day with Jesus.  What a day that must have been!

   What are we to make of this invitation? What does it say to us as disciples of Jesus today?  Matthew, Mark and Luke in presenting Jesus asking the disciples to drop their nets and follow him remind us that we too, as His followers, must drop our nets, not literally giving up job, family, etc, but making the following of Jesus our top priority.

   John's version challenges us in another way. It asks us if we are willing to accept the invitation to go and live with Jesus, to go away from our own comfort zone and live with the Lord.

   I believe that Pope Francis who continually calls us to live the Gospel is, in his preaching, extending both of these invitations to us--to drop our nets, and to go and see where Jesus lives.  That is why he de-emphasizes rules and doctrines. It is not that rules and doctrines are not important, but rather that without prioritizing our relationship with Jesus as the starting point of our Christian life the rules and doctrines become mere empty words. 

   Our evangelical brothers an sisters often talk about having a personal relationship with Jesus.  We would do well to listen to them.  The challenge for them and for us is asking the question that Andrew asked Jesus, "Where do You live Lord?"  As Catholics we believe that He lives especially in the Eucharist.  Together with our Protestant friends we believe the He lives in His Word. But all of us are challenged to encounter Him in another way, the way which Pope Francis points out, --In the Poor. This means not only the materially poor, but all those who are marginalized in many ways.

   These three dimensions of the Lord's presence we might see as three rooms in the Lord's house.  I don't think that the Lord wants us to stay in one room, but to encounter Him in all three that we might delight in the fullness of His presence.

  So let's "hang out" with the Lord, to use a modern expression.  Let us be nourished by Him in the Eucharist. Let us be filled with His life as we encounter Him in the Scriptures. Let us finally go and meet him in the highways and byways of the world in the poor and forgotten.

  I have found that I need to meet the Lord in all of these ways and am most blessed when I do.

1 comment:

Moving Out and Moving Ahead Cautiosly