April 14, Minority

Today’s Gospel Story (Lk 24:25-38) is Jesus with his disciples after his resurrection. At first they don’t recognize him, so he helps them see who he is. He takes time with them. The verse leading into the Gospel is “Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to us; make our hearts burn while you speak to us”. The Story concludes with Jesus explaining how the Scriptures offer me insight to my daily living, if I am open to it 

A “majority report” is what the Story generally has been understood to say, that Jesus showed himself to his disciples for a while after his resurrection. A “minority report” is what the Story says to me as I read or hear it in the setting of whatever is going on in my life at any given time. This can be a very personal matter, and may be challenging, uncomfortable, nonsensical, even frightening, that others might not understand or agree with, which brings its own challenges. As the scriptures “foretold” what would happen to Jesus, they offer insight and context to what is going on in my life, and even suggest what God is calling me to do, whether I would prefer to or not. I have the freedom to say no, and I’ve done so, always regretting those choices eventually.

Jesus’ disciples were struggling with the reality of the Resurrection. They had seen so much and were feeling the pain and disappointment. They had their doubts and questions, as we all do about many things. The gospel reminds us that faith and doubt are compatible. I can face my doubts honestly and openly, trusting that Christ will meet me where I am in my doubting. Doubting and questioning are how we grow. While I’d like things neat and orderly with some certainty, the Spirit does not offer any of this. Jesus lived that in his time among us, taught his disciples to live it, and calls me to live it. Faith, trust, is a way of living every day. Thomas Merton prayed, “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me; I cannot know for certain where it will end; nor do I really know myself”. Jesus doesn’t call us to know, but to believe, to trust.

 In the Story Jesus’ disciples do not recognize him. He says, “look at my hands and feet, that it really is I myself”. Especially with recent developments, in how many of our LGBTQ+ sisters is Jesus saying the same thing: “look at me and see who I am? Don’t tell me who you think I should be, take the time to get to know me”. Jesus  continually is calling me to look and recognize him, most often in persons where I really don’t want to recognize him, or getting involved in people’s suffering when I would really want to just run away. Can I believe that everybody in my life is there because, in God’s providence, we need each other? Do I have the right before God to tell people how to live or I won’t accept them? I think the basic question for me is what is God saying to me in all this, through so many wonderful people on all sides of this painful issue? I have absolutely no idea what Jesus is saying to others, and I am not in a position to judge or blame anybody. I can only do my best to be open and respond in the Spirit. How well I’m doing this I don’t know. Ego is a difficult and powerful thing with a mind of its own.

Jesus saw his disciples’ uneasy feelings and had compassion for them. He took time to be with them. With the pain coming from the recent Vatican declaration “Human Dignity” I ought give serious thought to recognizing the hurting and disturbing feelings in folks on all side of the issues and ask the grace of treating everyone with compassion. Considering my own feelings about it all, this is no easy thing. How do I live compassion? I’m not sure what it mens here. The Story suggests that I need to look at my own life, my values, my openness. It reminds me that I need God’s mercy in all this, maybe change my ways somehow. Am I willing to allow God to minister to me, show me how to minister and to accompany others? To see God being God in them, to live compassion as I have experienced people living compassion with me? This requires humility, honesty, and a willingness to open my life to God, an ongoing process. But if I’m serious about doing it, it leads me to the promise of forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Something I need to keep looking at and really need, especially these days.

In the Story as Jesus shows himself to his disciples, he says, “Peace be with you, why are you troubled?”. He tells them keep focused on him, stay with him let him guide them. Is this what he is saying to me? Will he guide me? If I head in a direction that is not his, will he stop me? His peace is real, and might take some getting used to, because often in the midst of chaos and disturbance, even doubt and loneliness, it makes no sense, but it is there.

This past week Pope Francis said, “Jesus does not explain suffering but bends towards those who suffer, he does not approach pain with generic encouragement and sterile consolations, but accepts its drama, allowing Himself to be touched by it .  . .  He was personally involved with people who are hurting .  .  .  The Lord excluded no one from God’s salvation but rather welcomed all and offered everyone total healing, in body, soul, and spirit.” Recently deceased Bishop Tom Gumbleton used to say, “find out what is going on in the world and let yourself be touched by the events around you;  as Jesus put it in his call to each of us, the reign of God is at hand, change your lives.” He paid the price for living this way. The system is not kind to people who don’t fit.

None of us has the complete revelation of God. Listening to each other is important to help discern where the Spirit is leading. We are constantly coming to experience more insight into God. We are growing, and every choice we make opens possibilities to further choices in practical and real circumstances. Faith is an attitude of openness and trust that God is real, and happening in every facet of our living. We have responsibilities beyond our own comfort and security. People matter, whether we like them or not, or even agree with them. Each of us as we are reflects God in a way no one else ever can. Jesus offers us his peace, and perhaps we might think about accepting it, and going where it takes us. Just sayin .  .  .