Dear sisters and brothers,
The challenge for all of us is to hear the Gospel as though it were new every day. We get so used to hearing the stories about Jesus and the Gospel narratives that we can block them out from having any new meaning in our lives. It is almost as if we could hear Nehemiah telling us: lose your sacred scriptures for a while and you will appreciate them so much more when they are found once again. Many people joke about the convert to Christianity being much stronger than the person born into Christianity. The challenge is for us who have been practicing Christians for many years to keep alive the deepest meaning of our faith. That is only possible if we are not just “practicing Catholics” or “practicing Christians,” but women and men who strive to know the Lord personally and give the best of our energies to this personal encounter with God.
It is much easier simply to do what religion asks of us! But in the end, that is the end of our faith! When we are invited to have a personal relationship with God, we must spend time pursuing that relationship. In the Gospel we have this incredible scene of Jesus taking the Scriptures and telling the people: I will interpret them for you with authority! And He does! So much of our faith rests on being willing to accept the witness of those who walked and talked with Jesus and those who gave witness to what they had heard or seen. So often the stories that we receive from the Gospel writers are incredibly strong. Surely had there been a gross distortion of how Jesus lived, there would have been an outcry among the early followers of Jesus. There are other versions, of course, of the Scriptures, but even the early Church recognized that they did not reflect what had been seen and experienced by the early followers of Jesus.
The letter to the Corinthians expresses very clearly our normal human experience: I do not have all of the gifts of faith but when I relate with others, together we form a certain kind of wholeness. This is so important to remember today, when there are pressures on every side either to abandon faith entirely and to water it down or to be almost reactionary and insist on a complete rigidity of the tradition.
Instead we are invited to listen attentively to God’s Word, to receive as if it is the first time that we have heard it and believed it. Together with others who also believe, we can form deeply Christian communities that will be a leaven in our world, not only for Christians but for all who seek truth. Let us listen attentively to God’s Word!
Peace and Everything good!