Third Sunday of the Year Reflection
The tribe of Zebulun derived its money from its ports and access to the sea. It helped support the tribe of Issachar, where the most important scholars of the Israelites were originally lived. The tribe of Naphtali had its ups and downs. Its history includes incomplete obedience and shades of cowardice, but it also includes bravery under Gideon and Godly support of King David.
Sophistication, wealth and philosophy had come to this area of original blessing yet they were despised and ostracised by observant Orthodox Jews. With all of this, we are told that their population had moved into darkness and into the shadow of death. How does this happen to people? As always, the answer is, little by little!
As with paranoia, the journey begins with pride, having an exaggerated sense of our own abilities and importance. From this it is an easy step to becoming intolerant of other people’s opinions and needs, becoming disdainful, angry and dismissive. Without proper illumination, this darkness can so easily creep into our own hearts where its flames are fed by the ego defending itself in a trance of denial; it is always the other person’s fault. Rationalising our motives and actions is the default setting
It is in this area that Jesus makes his headquarters and begins his ministry. It is here that Jesus calls his first disciples. It is here that the kingdom of God is first proclaimed. Jesus has no time for the blame game, and his strongest admonitions are against the leaders of those pious observant Orthodox Jews. Jesus truly does bring good news to those who are despised and ostracised; to those on the fringes of religious society.
Jesus teaches us the way that we ourselves must follow. The call to repent is not made to shame or disgrace others, which is always counter-productive by strengthening the defence mechanism of the ego. Jesus call to repentance requires us to look from a new perspective, to change our focus, moving the attention outside of the self, understanding our interdependence with others, acknowledging common humanity, and increasing empathy and compassion.
It is from this dynamic compassionate stance that we are able to engage our awareness of the present moment in a non-defensive way. Entering into a non-judgemental mode of objectivity, we encounter the truth that transforms our lives and allows us to grow every dimension of our human journey. This was the great healing that Jesus brought into people’s lives.
Mindfulness and the detached awareness that comes with it, facilitates an inclusive identity, especially in moments of conflict when our identity or core values are challenged. If your identity is inclusive, we become co-operative and compassionate toward others rather than only working to help ourselves and our immediate circle.
This is the healing that Jesus brought into people’s lives. This is the healing that we also are called to proclaim.
This is our way of going around the world as St Francis admonished us: I truly counsel, admonish and exhort my friars in the Lord Jesus Christ, that when they go about through the world, they are not to quarrel nor contend in words, nor are they to judge others, but they are to be meek, peaceable and modest, kind and humble, speaking uprightly to all, as is fitting.