3rd Sunday Reflection
And after John was handed over Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the good tidings of God: That “The proper time has been fulfilled and the Kingdom of God has drawn near; change your hearts and have faith in the good tidings.” And, passing along beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Simon’s brother Andrew trawling in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Come along after me, and I shall make you become fishers of men.” And, immediately abandoning the nets, they followed him. And proceeding a little further he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, and they were in the boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and leaving their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired hands they went away after him. The New Testament: A Translation (p. 64). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.
“The heart wants what it wants.” The prevailing desire of our heart governs the direction of our life. Stop, before we can change direction, we must stop!
The gospel promises us a change of heart, a gift from God, replacing a heart of stone for a heart of flesh.
Standing still long enough for the light of the gospel to shine in all those dark corners with the desires that govern us, is difficult and painful, change always is. We fear loss, loss of status, loss of control, loss of comfort, losing our little collections of goodies, losing our cherished independent sovereignty, and loss of those relationships that help us sustain our illusions.
Many of us have been forced into the stop mode over the past many months and we are perhaps now ready. This is a good time for each one of us to take our temperature; is my heart humble or prideful?
Do I have a believing heart, or have I manipulated the gospel message to align with my own desires? Does the direction of my life reflect the love of God and the love of neighbour? Have I remained open and teachable towards that obedient heart?
The call to a change of heart, the call to repentance is not a call to shame and guilt.
Guilt and shame are mostly unhelpful and the protests of the false self as it is shocked at its own limits, the defences of a ‘little man’ who wants to be the ‘big man’. First comes love. God leads by compassion toward the soul, never by condemnation.
If God would relate to us by severity and punitiveness, God would only be giving us permission to do the same. God’s work is always towards healing and harmony.
Let us ask ourselves: Does my lifework promote healing and harmony?
Our Franciscan tradition calls us to affective meditative contemplation, moving us from passive observers to active participation in the life of Jesus. From the crib at Greccio, along the way of the cross, and into the five wounds of the crucified Christ.
This ultimate violence and brutality inflicted on Jesus are taken into the body of the little Poverrello from Assisi. Francis then shows us by way of imitation the way of Jesus, moving beyond the fixation of violence in the event, without succumbing to morbid self-absorption or self-glorification as the victim, Francis journeys down the mountain of Laverne to work with lepers and seek out those in need.
The circle of violence and retaliation is broken. The passion of Jesus is now read in the flesh of Francis, a new heart as an invitation to promote healing and harmony.
Have I wondered too long the maze of the dead looking for resurrection and new life?
What a great joy to be given this opportunity to take another look and to come to this second gaze. The resurrection is not to be found in the empty tomb but among the living. This the when and the where of the Kingdom of God.
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