23rd Sunday Ordinary Time Year C 7 SEP 2013
I have to believe that if Dale Carnegie and Jesus were to have a strategic planning meeting and Jesus laid this at his feet, Dale might well have stood up shook his hand and wished him well in his endeavor and walked away in haste! Because I am quite certain, that would not be the opening line of winning friends and influencing people.
Unless you were going for the shock and awe value….or unless you were trying to get folks to look deeper, very deeply into the soul.
You see my friends the thief on the Cross next to Jesus had it right…please remember me when you come into your kingdom.!
Let’s be honest….the Cross is not an attractive branding….is it?
But the mystics, those who think and live and pray themselves deeply in faith….the mystics of every major faith tradition do agree on several things…and one of those is that somehow, someway, each and every one of us have something or somethings…that stand in the way of our grasping the mind and heart of God.
Souls will be unable to reach perfection who do not strive to be content with having nothing, in such fashion that their natural and spiritual desire is satisfied with emptiness; for this is necessary in order to reach the highest tranquility and peace of spirit.
St. John of the Cross
This whole pericope….this whole Gospel reading….it can not and it does not stand on its own. There is a context, a cultural, political and religious understanding, that we must know in order to understand what Jesus is saying.
Family was the highest value…to disown it meant to change everything about ones’ life. To deny ones family meant to give up their birth status, to give up real estate, to give up economic security and to give up social status.
Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees…a group…an elite group of highly educated, highly influential, politically savvy, religiously powerful leaders. And his confrontation was shocking! To give up that status was almost unimaginable!
Maybe that is why some of the Offenders I work with do actually understand what Jesus is saying. Stripped of dignity, status, and alot of civil rights because of the crime they have committed, the only thing they can do is stand before their God, and say…here I am, I have come to do your will.
Every cross has a lesson for us to learn….every cross has a truth about the mystery we call God. And we can make the choice to wallow and wail about the Cross, or we can choose to seek the wisdom of it. My Dad used to remind me….pity pots are good for resting for a short while, but if you stay on it too long you will end up with hemroids! What do our Crosses have teach us and what do we have to learn from them?
For some of us, our Cross may be our lack of patience, for others it may be the burden of disease or dysfunction. For some it may be our possessions, or our titles or positions in society, family or Church.
For some it may be our wealth, privilege, or our status.
The call of holiness is a call to let go….to as we say in recovery…to let go and let God.
To strip away all our “stuff” in order to stand naked before our God and know that all we need is to be grateful for being who and how we are! Nothing more and nothing less. A child of God.
So when the Cross shows up this week in our lives…however it is made manifest…maybe the challenge we can take is to stop and take stock….maybe we can stop and ask ourselves the question…what is there to learn from this pain?
But in the questioning never forget….just as our opening song reminded us….God dances with joy because of you!
BY the study of different RELIGIONS we find that in essence they are one.”