In today’s Sunday Mass Gospel reading from Matthew (Mt 22:15-21), is offers us important guidance. When confronted with the question if one should pay taxes, He responds with an important insight. He says, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar’s, but give to God what belongs to God”. So, for us, what does belong to God? For a mystic, all is God’s so all belongs to God. What about the state? How should we respond? Jesus instructs to give the state what belongs to it. LIfe is filled with obligations. Keeping our obligations and responsibilities in the right proportion is how we must live. Giving to God what is God’s – our very being – will certainly be life-giving. Jesus wisely guides us to do so!
For Teilhard, faith was never a matter of doctrines and principles. It is first and foremost an action—an “operative” as he calls it. Faith in this way becomes a wager: if the premise is true, you can only live into it through action. – Cynthia Bourgeault
Mystics live into their faiths. They believe but it is not the end. Doctrines and dogmas are important – but not why they do what they do. Faith is an action. It is not words or a belonging system. In this way, it is transformative.
In today’s Gospel reading from the Catholic Mass (Luke 11:27-28), we hear Jesus assuring us that we are blessed when we hear and observe God’s word. I take great solace in knowing that His word will bring me blessing if only I will observe it. But, what will that take? It surely means I must hear and reflect upon God’s word. I find this in Scripture from the lips of Jesus. I find it in the prophets. I find it in His universal church. I find it in kind people of all faiths and walks of life. God’s words are abundant – if only I will hear and observe them. I wished to be blessed by His Way. It is there for me – and for all. But, we must hear it first – then act upon it. With God’s tender Grace we will most certainly do so.
When do we take the time to just be with Jesus? Is it daily? How often daily? Would our lives be richer and more meaningful if we did? I know my life would be more rich and whole if I spent more time in solitude and interaction with Jesus during my day. In Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42) we get a lesson provided by the sisters Mary and Martha. Martha is busy serving Jesus and those who have assembled to be with Jesus and each other. Martha’s work is certainly important. However, Jesus also sees Mary’s choice – to spend time with Him – as the better choice. So much so, that He refuses to deny Mary of it despite Matha’s plea. Why? Jesus knows that both His dear friends Martha and Mary are both doing important things. But, Mary’s – spending time with Jesus – is actually more vital. Spending time in relationship with Jesus and our Triune Lord is clearly “the better part” as Jesus says. And like Mary, if we seek it, it shall not be denied us. And Jesus, true to His word, has never denied it to me. It is only my own lack of seeking it, that has ever left me without my precious friend and Lord, Jesus. So, ask yourself – are you seeking “the better part” and spending meaningful time with Jesus? If not, like Martha in this story, so will be missing out on the life Jesus wishes so desperately that you would have.
In the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), we hear of Jesus’s definition of loving our neighbor. Samaritans were the religious enemies of the Jewish people and it was considered sinful to be with a Samaritan by the Jews. And yet, Our Lord uses the mercy of a Samaritan for a beaten and robbed Jew to demonstrate how we are to love our neighbor! For the audience of Jesus’s time, such a suggestion would have been scandalous. For us, it must instruct us to have mercy for all – even those who have hurt us or despise us. God’s mercy and love has no boundaries. Our love must also be for all.
Jesus sent His disciples out in pairs to bring peace to their world. He implored them to bring it to all – not just some. Jesus was also a realist. Some will accept the offering of peace – and some will not. In this case, He said the peace will return to His followers! So giving of peace is always beneficial – even if it is not welcomed or received. We are called to bring peace to all regardless of its reception. Do we? It is our calling – we should.
Jesus calls us to follow Him. Are we prepared to follow? We certainly can find legitimate reasons to delay. We are called none-the-less. Do we answer? The Kingdom waits for us if we will only listen to Jesus and follow His call. So much joy awaits! Let us not delay in working in the Lord’s vineyard of life!
Jesus in today’s Gospel instructs us to become like children (Matthew 18:1-5, 10). In fact, Jesus calls a child over when asked who is the greatest in the Kingdom of God. He admonishes us to become like children. In what way should we be like children? Children have great joy, great hope and seem to smile at the smallest joys. I spend the weekend with my 2-year-old nephew – and his face was constantly smiling and he was looking to play and just be fully present. We can learn a lot from children. Jesus calls us to do just that!