Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel

The readings for Sunday, January 18, 2015:

First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 [11-20]

Psalm: Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17 (Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18 NRSV)

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Gospel: John 1:43-51

In this week's Gospel, people get an invitation.

Of course, it may not be the call they were expecting. We get a sense of that when Nathanael says, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (verse 46). Our Scriptures show us a similar story time and time again: God makes an offer, but it's not one that people are expecting. Often, their expectations blind them to the presence of God.

Nothing has changed today. Our Bible stories train us to look for burning bushes, so we ignore the still, small voice that speaks to us out of the darkness of a sleepless night: it's not God, it's indigestion. We're ready for hosts of angels, or bright stars, or wise men who let us know that there's a new savior on the scene--but we don't make time to attend to the daily work of spiritual discipline that might lead us to God's insight.

The story we get in today's Gospel seems like a young person's story. How hard is it to give up everything when you're young and don't really have all that much to give up? I think of the mother of Andrew and Simon Peter, who must wonder if her sons have lost their minds. I imagine her sighing, saying, "Eh, they're young. They'll come to their senses and come back to the family business--I give them 6 months of this homeless lifestyle, following this wackadoo Jesus."

John is the most mystical of the Gospels, so we have this portrait of Jesus, who prophesies that these men will see great things. And they drop everything and go.

Would we follow Jesus, if he appeared today? Or would we offer our standard reasons for why we can't possibly accept the invitation before us:  no time, conflict of interest, kids have after school activities, no time, guests in town for the week, laundry and grocery shopping to do, too much work to do, no time.  After all,  we are people with responsibilities; we can't just abandon them to follow some guy around the countryside. Experts tell us that it takes 4-8 invitations before a friend will come with you to church. Imagine what Jesus faced as he offered invitations to total strangers.
How could Jesus frame this invitation to make it compelling?  How can we? 

For me, it's Christ's vision of a Kingdom of God on earth, a vision where everyone has enough and suffering ceases. This vision is the Good News that Jesus came to deliver: we don't have to live the way we've been living!

In the coming weeks, we'll read the narrative of Jesus. Listen for that message. Try to hear with new ears, so that you, too, can "come and see" (verse 46).

And in your daily life, be on the lookout for God. God is still alive and moving through the world, making invitations to those who have ears to hear. On a daily basis, an hourly basis, God constantly calls us to come and see. God always calls us to transform the world and God promises that transformation is possible, even probable. We are Resurrection People: Life blooms even in the middle of death, even in the deep midwinter.

No comments: