In last week's newsletter, I wrote about Jesus as a big thinker. What happens when the Gospel seems to present paradoxical, or even absurd ideas to us? Is this part of big thinking giving us an expanded thinking use of opposites?
Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. He asks us to bless those who curse us, and to turn the other cheek to those who strike us. Be merciful and forgiving, expect nothing, and "your reward will be great." How are we to understand these paradoxical commands if our heart is hurting when we are so terribly wronged? I am certain that at least once in everyone's life this has happened.
In my first year of teaching, I was given a class with children of every exceptionality and age from kindergarten to eighth grade. For all of you teachers, you understand that I was really facing failure for not just one child, but for all! How cold I possibly meet the needs and teaching objectives on each IEP when my class was so completely varied?
I was always taught to bend to the will of superiors, and in this case it was my District Exceptional Education Supervisor. I was a Christian trying to follow the rules of Jesus in this Gospel, but I found it to be impossible. I interpreted this passage by defining Christians as passive. Did God just want me to give up and let these little children reap the results of a classroom that was in chaos? I prayed to ask for grace to get through that year, but nowhere in the Bible could I find the passage that told me to lie down and be a doormat to an unjust situation. Listen to what I did find.
Jesus made it all plain when he began, "To you who hear..." That was what I had not understood before. Just reading the rules was not enough. Jesus was telling all of us that the Kingdom of God is possible now, and the Kingdom of Love is a reality now. Jesus has given us a spirit to dwell with Him as a Big Thinker - not a coward. I was completely wrong about those rules because I left out the most important part. Jesus tells us that we receive our identity from God our Father - not from how others treat us.
Those who are living with and in the Kingdom of God are willing to be risk takers and are willing to be generous, forgiving, and vulnerable. We risk living without the protection of power, position, or privilege. The hymn we sung in Mass yesterday says, "We are called to be light for the kingdom, to live in the freedom of the city of God!" Letting our light shine brightly, without fear of being snuffed out, ushers us into the kingdom of God now, not later.
Oh sure, we are challenged daily to show self- control in all areas of our lives. Those are the rules. But our Jesus is saying so much more to us. He is saying, come dwell with Me and I will give you Spiritual Freedom!
Will you pray with me?
Dear Heavenly Father,
You ask us each day to not judge of others, not to hate those who have shown hatred to us. Then You ask us to do something that is impossible for us to do alone - forgive all. Help us to understand that true strength lies only in Your love and wisdom. Please give us Your wisdom to differentiate our own self-will from Your will. Please Holy Spirit, walk with us on this journey towards the Kingdom of God.
In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.
Have a wonderful week. I love you all,