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It’s not as clear cut as we may want to believe?
Notice what is going on in this passage? The people are watching Jesus, and Jesus is clearly watching the people. He is watching their behavior, and then, based on what he sees, he teaches.
What does he see?
He sees people trying to position themselves to promote themselves, to signify how important they think they are; and I think he sees it as silly.
He wants the people to see the value of humility, and he uses their own egos, their own vanity to teach them this.
Why? Why teach this way? He really wants them to connect it to their lives. He wants to break through their limited view of life and that means he needs to go for where it will have the most effect…their egos.
Because ultimately he wants them to see the value of Humility.
Humility is freeing. When we know that we are truly Loved by God then we do not have to put so much energy into proving ourselves to others, or against others.
So, think about this…If Jesus were at our house, our work, your school, at this parish…what would he observe in us: in you and me?
Would he see us trying to position ourselves? Would he see our egos, our own vanity at work?
Would he see us behaving generously? behaving with Compassion ? Would he see us forgiving others?
How would he teach us?
How does a marriage thrive? What makes a marriage thrive? It is the quality of the relationship.
When a man and woman marry, ideally they have already been building intimacy through good communication through growing in trust of one another, and through learning to be vulnerable with each other.
And that is never to stop.
The day of the marriage, that intimacy, that relationship needs to continue to develop and grow, because that intimacy created becomes a stepping off point for which the woman and man can continue to grow and mature as persons.
Then as each grows, they bring something new back into the relationship and the relationship grows, which give more incentive for the persons to grow… it is a dynamic process! This marital relationship signifies the reality of what Jesus desires for all.
Jesus desires our growth, our maturity as men and women, into the children of God which we are created to be.
In other words, Jesus desires our salvation.
Do we desire it?
Salvation, we need to understand, is not anything that I can give you, nor can anyone else give. Nobody on this earth can save your soul nor give you salvation. (So don’t fall into that trap) It is already given. We are already saved in Jesus Christ. Everyone.
Clearly though, by the amount of violence, egotism, materialism, divorce, abuse etc, by all the needless suffering we inflict on each other, by all the anger we can harbor within us, by all the fear that runs our lives…
…salvation has not be accepted by all, nor lived by all.
What makes the difference? Jesus says it clearly: relationship.
The gift we have been given is made real and concrete through our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Jesus says he does not desire a merely superficial relationship. One based on eating and drinking, and proximity. One based on merely following rules, regulations and protocols.
Jesus, God, desires more.
Think about our own relationships: the ones that give us strength and joy, whether it is our friends or marriages. The ones that thrive are the relationships in which we actually talk and share.
There is more than the one word answer like “Good” “Fine” “Ok”. We actually express our thoughts feelings, experiences with the others.
There is this consideration for the other, always.
In spirituality, this is called contemplation. This idea that we see our lives totally mingled in Jesus, and Jesus’ in ours. Contemplation is to have that deep, abiding relationship with the Christ, with all of the Trinity!
It is based on honest communication: prayer. It is based on intimacy: scripture.
It is based on seeing Jesus as having value: love.
It is based on humility: giving of myself for him, as he gave himself for me.
It is based on trusting that Jesus wants only the best for us, and is with us always.
That personal relationship brings with it Joy. Joy, that deep profound, beyond emotion, “Attitude” that all can be good. Joy that says, yes, my life, my marriage, might be unstable for the moment, but it will endure.
Joy that says yes, I am scared for my future, I know I am not in control, but I know that God will direct me to where I need to be.
Joy that says I am so sad; but I am loved and I can go on.
Joy cannot be found if we merely go through the exercise of acting as disciples, acting as catholics…
You know how it can go…We go to mass on the weekend, sit in the pews, place a buck in the basket, wander up for communion, then out the doors until next week.
Saying a quick prayer during the week if we need a good grade, or winning lottery numbers…
Joy, salvation, comes through taking that risk of being in relationship with Christ, and allowing ourselves to be changed. Surrendering the desire, the need to control and do what we think we want to do.
Joy comes with having our eyes opened to the reality of Jesus’ presence with us always; of seeing the world, others, ourselves differently.
Joy is to know that even when we make mistakes, we sin, God has no interest in punishment, but only, ONLY in mercy and forgiveness, in picking us up and getting us on our feet again.
It is looking into the eyes of God, and saying “I do.” Not once, but every day.