I am back from Mass. As I reflect back on the scripture readings, they appeared to be more appropriate for the season of Lent, not for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Then again, on second thought, the encouraging message offered is timeless. We, because we are human, are in constant need of this reminder. In the sacred readings, the prophet Jesus encourages us to "repent and believe in the gospel". In other words, we are to repent and believe in The Good News. This is a call to perform two actions. We are to first of all, repent, then we are to believe in the good news of the gospel. In practice we are to turn around from the direction we are going in, and go the opposite way. In other words, make a u-turn. Our spiritual journey demands many, many, u-turns. When we make such a turn, we are admitting "I am going in the wrong direction, and must change direction". We make the turn because of some new information that was revealed to us. To keep going in the old direction would not get us to where we intended to go. With the new information came a new direction. As we travel in this new direction, we gain confidence that we will reach our destination. The attitude has changed as well. There is that great inner feeling, which I cannot describe, knowing you are on the right path, the right trail. With that feeling comes a great sense of freedom and enjoyment.
When I hike in a new area I always have a map. Even with a map I can get lost. (I can get lost in a bath tub.) There is real fear in being lost. That fear is relieved when someone appears who knows the right direction and takes the time to share that knowledge in a way I can understand. Small words in short sentences, is my preferred way to hear 'the good news' of new directions. So often, the new information demanded I double back and go in the opposite direction. This act of faith is both humbling and freeing. So it is with the "good news” that comes to us from The Gospel of Jesus Christ. All "good news", in any form, is intended to direct us safely home . This results in that great feeling one gets when after enduring a troublesome, challenging part of a hike one sees clearly where one is to go. There is a deep need to shout out in joyous freedom. "WOW….WOW….WOW, I MADE IT." I would like to suggest this is a paradigm to help us communicate the experience of the spiritual reality, both hidden and revealed, in that which we call, life.
By our birth we have been placed on a path to travel, a trail to hike, that will eventually lead us to,"the fullness of life”. This 'fullness’ is also called The Kingdom of God. This is, as you well know, NOT a temporal kingdom. It is a spiritual kingdom of justice, love and peace. It is an eternal kingdom, which we cannot earn or deserve, because it is a gift. Because of this gift we can freely choose to enter into The Kingdom of, peace, joy, and love, or not. Well, to be very honest, there is a catch, (I can hear you say, “I knew it, this is too good"). We have to ALLOW it to happen. Our egos will fight us tooth and nail on this one. We have become so used to earning, deserving, and qualifying for what we receive, so when such a great gift is freely offered we balk. We begin to calculate what do I have to give in return? What is equal to the gift i have been gifted with? The gift is eternal in its origin. It is "the pearl of great price".
To make it easier for us to get our arms around this “Good News", our gracious God sent His Beloved Son to Incarnate this Good News. He choose our humanity and our everyday living as human beings, as the instruments through which this great mystery is revealed. Jesus came as the lived reality, of that which is offered spiritually. We will be challenged to turn from one way, our selfish, self-centered way of existing, so as to live another, centered way. This u-turn, this turning around frees us to live a life that is truly human and truly free. St. Irenaeus has this wonder-full saying, “The glory of God is the human person fully alive". That is what our God’s plan for us is. We do our best to mess it up. We need to repent from our self-centered way, which leads to a life lived in guilt, fear and shame. We need to turn to a new way of acting which is appropriate for those who are called to live the life of free daughters/sons of a Gracious, merciful God. In this turning, this acting, a wonder-full reality appears. We begin to think of ourselves as the beloved daughter/son. We begin to believe in our beloved-ness and so are lead to live life and live it to the fullest. We begin to live out the reality of the good news. We are fulfilling our God given destiny. It is for this you were born, for this you were created, for this you were anointed, consecrated, to be revealers of that great secret which our world so desperately needs. You then are the contemporary “gospelers", spelling out in your life today what Jesus Christ taught and lived. Your lived everyday life may be the only bible some people will ever get to read. See how much faith our God has in each and every human being, as well as in all of His creation. Want to shout out, “WOW….WOW….WOW”, now?