|By Fr. Brendan McGuire
Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose and Vicar General for special projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most Excellent Way of Christ
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 31, 2016
Some time ago, I was on the beach enjoying myself when I noticed a commotion happening in the distance. A child was wailing at full blast and I saw what appeared to be his father whacking him without restraint. I was shocked at what was happening and I was even more disturbed that nobody around them was doing anything. So I started to walk toward them and when I got closer I realized that the man was indeed his father but that he was trying to kill a wasp that was actually attacking the boy and stinging him badly.
When we remain at a distance from a situation or from a person, we often do not have access to the whole truth and our perception is skewed. Yet it does not stop us from judging. When we judge from a distance, we often judge erroneously. When we move ourselves closer, we generally come to a clarity and we see and hear differently. We realize what is truly happening. Then we can judge in truth and with knowledge. This is true of the world view of poverty and homelessness. At a distance, it looks ugly and scary, but as we move closer, we see fellow human beings who have just made bad choices or bad things have happened to them. As we get closer to them, we judge in truth and with knowledge.
In today’s gospel, Jesus comes to his own village, the place where he had grown up and the natives of his town cannot hear what he has to say. They cannot accept that he is the Messiah; that this scripture is now fulfilled in their hearing; that he is the Messiah. They remain at a distance from him emotionally and spiritually because it is just too hard to hear. Not only are they at a distance, but they now want to take him and throw him off the hill of the town headlong. Anger rises up and they cannot take it; they want him dead immediately.
As Christians, we follow Jesus and we are called to move closer to Jesus; to listen to what Jesus has to say for us in our own life. That can be hard work. This movement toward Jesus is called “The Way.” It was called so because Christ is The Way, The Truth and The Life; it was called so by his early disciples and the early church was called The Way.
In today’s letter to the Corinthians, Paul actually goes one step further and calls it the Most Excellent Way. He refers to what we now call the theological virtues: faith, hope and love and the greatest of these is love. It is not enough just to move along The Way toward Jesus but we must do so in love and out of love. Motivated by love. Sustained by love. And then completed by love. This requires of us to move closer to where the commotion is in our life.
We are called to move closer with eyes of compassion and to see differently. That requires us to change. As disciples of Jesus we follow this Most Excellent Way of loving one another.