8. Jan, 2017

The bar of the Gospel is high, but leads to salvation :)

By coincidence, this week (2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time A) we have the eastern story of God’s epiphany that commemorates Jesus’ baptism, where Jesus was revealed as God’s beloved son. John the Baptist says: ”I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.” So, what was the big Epiphany?  John the Baptist testified (a) Jesus was the one on whom Gods Spirit rested (b) that he Baptises with that Spirit, and (c) that he is the Chosen one of God.

So, what does it mean to be baptised with the same Spirit, that is alive and blazing in the heart of Jesus? Hmm…, we could reflect on who we are as Christians, what we have inherited, and who we are called to be? I want to be a bit more practical and reflect on how we should be living our lives. Last week we talked about growing in faith by conversion, practising virtue, and by the growth of God’s love in our hearts, guided only by faith. This week we’ll think about the Gospels.

The 1st consideration is that to live by the Gospel involves a radical new mindset. Remember the story in Matthew where Jesus explained his plan, and immediately Peter started to argue with Jesus. Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The way we think is flawed because we want to weigh up things, and not be faithful. God wants a covenant mindset where our thinking is established in relationship to God’s revelation, revealed by Jesus. Instead of weighing things up (I'm taking a crack at proportionalism/utilitarianism that weighs up pre-moral evil!), or thinking of obligation (deontology), the virtue of faith should be our overarching guide.

The other consideration is I want to reflect on is turning away from sin – otherwise repentance. Remember in the Gospel of John when Jesus says to the woman who was living an objectively bad life. 1st I do not condemn you. 2nd Go your way, and from now on do not sin again. Very pastoral, very clear leaving us no doubt as to the way God wants us to live our lives.

There is another Gospel in John that explores the way God accompanies us, in more depth. It is that dialogue with the Samaritan woman at the well. He knew she was shunned by the community—otherwise why was she there in the scorching heat—but drew her into a dialogue with him, wanting to give her something so wonderful that she could not imagine – eternal life. But also, note that he challenged her to grow. Out of love for her Jesus called the Samaritan woman out on her infidelity, calling her to salvation - to worship God in spirit and in fidelity to the truth. As God’s forgiveness comes in an instant of our contrition, calling her to repent of her sin was a great act of mercy, of kindness, of love.

Just a few reflections that are super necessary for us who have been baptised with the same Spirit that Jesus was baptised, witnessed by John the Baptist in the Jordan. These reflections are at the heart of the schism in the Vatican. The bottom line is it is not possible to live in objective situations of sin whilst being in the grace of god – contra to the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 305