MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on how all Christians are asked the same question that Jesus is asked and then asks, “By what authority do we live out our lives?” Please read Matthew 21:23-32.
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 9/25/2011The 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 21, verses 23-32..
Being a Christian means that your frame of reference is different than the world’s, and confusing to the world.
I must make a confession to you today. Sandi and I refused to allow our children to watch any show that used violence unnecessarily when they were little. Shows like, Teen Age Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and other shows that were popular in the 1990s were off limits. Yet, I could not, and still cannot, help but get at least a little fired up when I’m watching Notre Dame Football and they get a good hit on a guy out in the flats of the football field, WHAM! Although there was not much of that from Notre Dame in the last few years, there is just something about that “in-your-face” kind of action that makes me say, “YEAH!” Then the Holy Spirit gets a hold of me and I stop and wonder if there isn’t a way that we could make the pads a little less protective so that the players would concentrate on tackling instead of nailing people to the wall.
The “in your face” element of football reminds me of this passage we read today from the Gospel of Matthew. We have these chief priests and elders of the people come to Jesus and ask him, “By what authority was John’s baptism?” The question is great. It goes to the heart of the issue asking, “Can the chief priests and elders of the chosen people tell when God is at work in the world?” The question is only valid because of what Jesus has already done. His actions themselves have been authoritative before his question comes.
The question can only be given by one who does the will of God. Jesus heals the sick, raises the dead, forgives sins, loves his enemies, challenges false teachings, and calls people to repentance and discipleship. Because he is who he is, he is able to ask the question of the chosen ones. He is who he is because he lives in a different frame of reference than those whom he confronts. His life and everything in it is ruled by the Kingdom of God and nothing else.
It used to be that one of our children would come and say, “He hit me!” or “She took my toy!” I used to think then, if the child was just sitting there and was hit or had their toy taken away from them, I would need to rectify the situation. Because I have experienced childhood myself, I used to ask the children, “What did you do to them?” They were young enough at the time that they would get that look on their face and say, “I hit them.” That’s when I would decide that their testimony is just not credible. They have not acted with the proper frame of reference, the proper rules over all of their actions which would allow them to make the statement, “he hit me.” Now if they had been faithful and “turned the other cheek,” or had “loved their brother or sister as themselves,” then I would have believed them and been proud of them.
Similarly, we Christians need to be credible with our actions first before we are active with our mouths. It is when we are faithful with our actions that we send a clear message to the world. The missionary Lesslie Newbigin writes in his book, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society,
How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer…of the gospel, is a parish of men and women who believe it and live by it.
We do not often realize that whatever we do because we love the Lord has an impact on the world.
When I leave a place of business, I often say, “God bless you today.” People stop and look at me funny. Their look says, “What a nut. Why does he do that?” I do it because I love Jesus. I do it because I want everyone to know that as they scurry about in their day there is a Lord of their lives who is watching over them. Those who know this fact usually look back with a big smile and say heartily, “God bless you, too.” Those who do not know this basic but huge fact are confused.
Surely it is confusing to the world that we would all call the person who organizes the prayers before the Blessed Sacrament in our parishes with our troubles and hurts. It is confusing to the world that we would read one book daily throughout our lives even though we already know the ending. It is confusing to the world that we would get on our knees on the floor and say words to a being that we cannot see. It is crazy to the world that we meet in our Churches every Sunday to declare that a man, who hung on a cross, was surely dead, is risen and risen indeed. It is confusing to the world that we speak of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit which we would never do things to hurt our bodies. It seems confusing to them that we would desire mercy for a murderer or any criminal. It seems confusing to them that we would admit that we sin and fall short of the glory of God. The most confusing thing of all is that we seemingly “waste” ten percent of our income on the Church on what seems to be such a bad investment. It is a strange and confusing thing to the world.
It is strange and confusing because most people in the world do not know Jesus like we know Jesus. Those who live by the rules of the world don’t know what it means to live in the grace of Jesus Christ. Those in the world maybe know a word spelled g-o-d. They may believe in good fortune and luck and call it “god.” They may have some fuzzy or vague feeling within them that they call “god.” Whatever it is, it is not God.
Our testimony by how we are living our lives day in and day out is a frightening thing for some in the world. Our lives are to beg the question just like Jesus’ life begged the question, “By what authority do you do these things?” Because of that it is imperative that we continue to live the Christian/Catholic life we are living. It is imperative that we continue to live the life that acknowledge God’s power created the world, God’s power ordered the world, and that God’s power allows us to live as communities of faith which testify to this power for living.
Someday, somebody is going to see how we are living our lives and that testimony is going to hit them just like a good tackle out in the flats. Our living testimony is going to hit them in the heart and convict them that they are loved by Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So, my word this day is for all of us to keep living life in the Kingdom of God so that confusion will reign until Jesus reigns in the new Heaven and new Earth. Amen? Amen.
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