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Breath of the Spirit
Pastoral, Liturgical, Teaching, and Social Justice Moments brought to you by DignityUSA.
Breath of the Spirit is our electronic spiritual and liturgical resource for our members and potential members. Nothing can replace your chapter or other faith community but we hope you will find further support here for integrating your spirituality with your sexuality and all the strands of your life.
Obviously we must go beyond the here and now and have a vision of what can be if we’re true disciples.
JULY 7RD, 2019: FOURTEENTH SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
I presume Paul would have benefited from a class or two in anger control before he wrote his letter to the Galatians. It’s an understatement to say he was uptight when he dictated it. He had personally evangelized the Galatian community, teaching them how to become other Christs by imitating Jesus’ death and resurrection in their own lives. Only by giving themselves for others would they be transformed into the same new creation into which the risen Jesus had been transformed.
Yet in a short period of time, some of them – as former Jews - had reverted back to their old practice of finding salvation in keeping the 613 laws of Moses, symbolized by the men being circumcised. They found more security in that than in being crucified with Jesus. Paul was so infuriated by their behavior that a chapter before today’s pericope, he angrily writes, “Would that those who are upsetting you might also castrate themselves!” (Somehow the church has never found a liturgical setting for this particular passage.)
Using himself as an example, the Apostle encourages people just to look at him and see the damage to his body that his dying with Jesus has brought about. (Scholars believe his “marks of Jesus” have nothing to do with the later phenomenon of individuals receiving the “stigmata.”) Paul’s been scourged and beaten because of his imitation of Jesus, not because of his keeping the Mosaic regulations. Though he’s endured great physical pain, he’s convinced there’s also a huge amount of psychological pain in discipleship. That seems to be what he means when he speaks about “the world being crucified” to him.
That’s precisely the kind of pain Third Isaiah is presuming when he talks about “rejoicing with Jerusalem.” Among other things, the prophet is trying to stimulate his community to simply leave Babylon and return to the Jewish capital. The problem is that when he’s preaching these words, Jerusalem is in ruins, wiped off the face of the earth by the Babylonians over 60 or 70 years before. These formerly exiled Israelites not only have to return, they also have to rebuild. After one glance at the destroyed city, most decided to go back to Babylon. They found more peace and security in a foreign land than in rebuilding their native land.
Obviously we must go beyond the here and now and have a vision of what can be if we’re true disciples. Living by such a vision entails a real psychological death; something not only many Israelites, but also many Galatians were unwilling to endure.
As we hear in today’s gospel passage, giving oneself over to the vision of Jesus frequently causes rejection. Luke’s Jesus is not just predicting what’s going to happen when his followers try to evangelize others, like all gospel writers, Luke is also reflecting on what already happened to some of the “missionaries” in his own community. He wants to make certain they don’t get down just because they were often rejected. No matter how their message was received, God is still among us working effectively in our daily lives. God’s presence doesn’t depend on people recognizing it. Whether proclaimers of Jesus’ word succeed or fail, as long as they keep working to make the risen Jesus’ vision a reality in this world, their names are “written in heaven.” According to Luke’s Jesus, that’s the only thing that matters.
Obviously a lot of Catholics again accepted Jesus’ vision after Vatican II. And a lot of Catholics eventually abandoned that vision for the sake of their own security. Thank goodness we have a pope who’s calling us to return to that vision, no matter the cost.
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