This post belong to the series --- Letters to my friend--- in which I write about being a Christian to a friend of mine. Today's title: "It is hard to welcome the light"
My dear friend K,
As soon as Jesus began his mission, he said "The kingdom of God has become near, change your mind and believe in the good news."(Mc 1,15)
My friend, this is great! There are good news for everyone to hear! They are the good news of the kingdom of God, of this new world that God dreams and intends for us; a new reality that is already breaking into our mist.
But, atention!, there is also a price to pay; more often than not, as he says, welcoming these good news requires a change of mind and heart. A change of how we live in the world.
And, my friend, in many cases, changing is hard.
Making space for a new mind and a new heart requires a process of dying to ourselves, in some way, so a new self can be created.
If we try to keep our life, we will lose the true life that is now ready for us, but if instead we are not afraid of changing and therefore of losing our selves, then we will find the treasure of the kingdom od God. By welcoming the good news we will become a new creation.
"Follow me" says Jesus "For whoever would keep his life save will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me and the good news of the kingdom will save it."(Mc 8,35) We need to be brave to lose our life, which is to die to ourselves. However, quite often, we are too attached to our evil ways that we don't even realise. And if we do we don't fancy to change. We try to resist it. We prefer to live in darkness than to see that we need to change. As John the evangelist wrote "The light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil."(Jn 3,19)
When the light comes into the world it exposes the sinful structures and ideologies that are build into our society and into our sense of identity. We face a decision about ourselves, about who are we going to become.
See for instance the situation in which some pharisees found themselves in when they came close to Jesus to figure out who was the man and what were his intentions. What they discovered is that Jesus, while being a Jew, was eating with prostitutes and tax-collectors, the sort of people that they didn't want to hang out with. In fact, what decent man eats with prostitutes? what decent person eats with the anti-jewish roman-collaborationists, or the anti-put-your-own-nation-here people? Jesus did.
Not so the pharisees. They didn't want to get associated with prostitutes and tax-collectors. They wanted to remain pure. Therefore they had to separate themselves from the impure, or they would become un-clean themselves. What Jesus was doing was for them un-intuitive and surprising, why would he be so un-worried about becoming ritually un-clean?
So they ask the the disciples of Jesus:
- why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?
When Jesus heard this, he said
- those who are well do not need a doctor, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means "I desire mercy, not sacrifice". For I have come not to call the righteous but the sinners. (Mt 9,12-13)
The pharisees were not bad people. They were people that wanted to be good Jews, and follow the rules that keep them ritually clean. They wanted to keep the law given to Moses, so they could be in good standing before G*d and before the community. What Jesus is telling them is that if they enter into the dynamics of pure versus impure, and keep separating themselves from sinners, this exclusion will end up in sacrifice. You can not keep away from people and love them.
I wish that we can all take Jesus as and example. He didn't regard his equality with God as something to be grasped (Phil 2:6) but out of love emptied himself (2:7) and set his tent between us (Jn 1,14), becoming one of us. God loves us so much that he didn't kept himself away. The same we should do. Change our hearts into the mind of Jesus. Keep ourselves close to all people, since we cannot love people and keep away from them.
May God bless you with the understanding of his will, and with a heart that enjoys being with the people he loves.
Lots of hugs,