Our journey with our Creator always begins with a personal invitation, even if we have been practicing our faith tradition from birth, at some point as individuals we are all called to say a personal: yes—amen—I believe.
I find that I can quickly and easily default to polarization—to taking sides—when I read these kinds of exchanges in the Gospels between Jesus and the Jewish leaders of the time. Perhaps I am simply taking on the mind and reflecting elements of our current culture; Jesus is on the right side and the Pharisees are on the wrong side and I naturally side with Jesus and the sick person—Levi –who is only a stand in for me.
Yet, Jesus is the ultimate “Repairer of the breach and Restorer of ruined homesteads” we read about in Isaiah; the ultimate unifier, par excellence. He is about Love—period. So, when I read this text with my unity lens—the mind of Christ—firmly in place, I can begin to see a deeper truth dawning. If I hold back judgement for a moment, might the Pharisees have been trying to understand this action of Jesus since it clearly went against their interpretation of the Law? Might Jesus be talking to me about some element of the spirit of the law as opposed to the rule of law for which I need deeper understanding? Do, I have a question that is challenging me about Jesus actions? There is absolutely no shame in admitting that fact if it is the case.
The reality is that once we have accepted the invitation to be followers of Christ, we are constantly challenged to shed our old ways of thinking and that is painful—I know this from personal experience—and put on the mind of Christ instead. If we look to Christmas when we celebrate the glory of the Incarnation, the very next day is St. Stephen’s Day, the first martyr. So the Church invites us to ponder the realities of being a disciple. While most of us will never be asked to give the ultimate testimony of faith by martyrdom, we are nonetheless called to this self-emptying mind of Christ (Philippians 2:7) so as to align our will with God’s will. This human flourishing is what the prophet Isaiah speaks of in the first reading. These corporal works of mercy always take us beyond our ideas and our comfort as we confirm our daily yeses.
It paves the way for us to see light in darkness and so to be a light in the darkness for others. Imagine the reality of gloom becoming like the midday—for you and me!
May Love touch our hearts gloriously this day so as to make us ride on the heights of the earth. And from this elevated spot, may we behold the bigger picture and be kissed by Grace. May we be an instrument of light and healing. Yes—amen—I believe. Amen.
Jean Bowler is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a member of the Office of Mission Effectiveness Board of Holy Cross Province.