Saturday, 30 January 2010

Is not this Joseph's son? (Luk 4:22 RSV)

The gospel this week is a continuation of last week, taken out of the Gospel of Luke (4:21-30). I will take a bit of a different slant on this reading than might be normal, as I want to try and apply it to my own present experience. In the last few weeks I have tried to express a bit of my internal journey with the Lord, or maybe I can even say internal "struggle".

When I initially encounter the Lord, for me quit profound through my conversion for others it is more gradual, I would praise the Lord with the growd in Nazareth: "all spoke well of him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth" (Luk 4:22 RSV). At that time, and in those times, it seems like the Lord was very close and it seems that He would answer any request almost even before I asked it!
But then after a while it appears to "change". Maybe I can follow the gospel and see where it leads me... The crowd continue to say "Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luk 4:22 RSV). When the initial awe is over, and the closeness of God becomes normal, this might be the next phase of the relationship. Jesus becomes normal, He is always there, and the newness and excitement wears off. Off course this is put pretty blunt..

There is also the aspect of maturing in your faith, the time when it becomes necessary to discover more of the fullness of a relationship with God. As St. Paul says, we fist need to know the first principles (can I say an experience of God's love?), "You need milk, not solid food" (Heb 5:12 RSV) because "for you were not ready for [solid food]" (1Co 3:2 RSV). The first principle of love puts us on the way, but the reality of God is much deeper than that, as love is much deeper than a fuzzy feeling in the belly.

I was thinking of a relationship between a man and a woman, drawing on my own experience. First, when you start going out with somebody, there is an attraction to each other and there might seem to be a blazing fire of love. However, as time goes on you realise that a relationship is much deeper than that. A real relationship between two people is not just on the surface and does not only includes the nice aspects. A real relationship includes everything, and involves a union and love that goes much deeper. The reality of this can off course be seen in God's love for us, "and being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phi 2:8 RSV).

So the question I am asking myself these days is "am I prepared to go that far". Or maybe even more realistic, am I prepared to leave everything for the sake of God. It might actually be easy enough to say to be ready to die for God, as the chance that that will happen is quite small in my environment. But am I ready to follow Jesus in everything, ready to accept everything that might come on my way, just for the sake of Him? Am I ready to be a failure, am I ready to "be last of all and servant of all" (Mar 9:35 RSV)? Am I ready to give up my pride, my ego?

These are the questions that come up these days, and this is the road I feel I am walking now. It seems fine to be a martyr for Christ, to die for love, but when this is asked of me I feel myself saying  "Is not this Joseph's son?" (Luk 4:22 RSV). This seems much harder than dying...

In the Gospel Jesus goes on to say "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, `Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here also in your own country.'"  (Luk 4:23 RSV) This is what I tried to get at. Is it only the miracles we want, or are we open to the real invitation. When Jesus subsequent quotes two events out of the Old Testament, the one with Elijah (Luk 4:25 RSV) and the other with Elisha (Luk 4:27 RSV) where God did not work the miracles for the Isralites but for foreigners the crowd gets angry, or maybe even more expressive "when they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath" (Luk 4:28 RSV). I guess this can be very relevant in somebodies life when somebody else gets praise or does a great job, while it seems that the work you do yourself is not noticed at all or has no effect. The Nazarenes even "led him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong" (Luk 4:29 RSV).

But Jesus "passing through the midst of them he went away" (Luk 4:30 RSV). God is drawing us deeper and deeper into His love, He always does. But, as I tried to express some of my own experiences and struggles above, the question I have to ask myself is if I am prepared to let God lead the way, or am I only prepared to go as far as I like to go. If we reject His invitation He will not force us, but will leave us to our own plans. God does not reject us, He does not leave us in a way of abandoning us, but leaves us to our own ways, God gave us free choice to do whatever we want...

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