Monday, June 10, 2013

Jesus' Most Revolutionary Teachings

An authentic revolution turns the world not just upside down, but inside out.  And Jesus remains the greatest and only authentic revolutionary in human history: Transforming the cosmos, one heart at a time; offering everyone the Most, starting with the least.  Revealing that Love does indeed make the world go around, even while liberating human love from its narcissistic tendencies.

Jesus is the only Messenger who was also the Message. He not only taught but brought the Kingdom of heaven.  After all, what could be more transformative than the ineffable and omnipotent God speaking to us in words we could understand?  What could have a greater potential to change the world than Eternal Life itself walking among us as a mortal man?  The beloved disciple concludes his Gospel with this remarkable testimony, "There are also so many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not thin the whole world would contain the books that would be written" (Jn 21:25).

So if you had to identify a list of Jesus' most revolutionary teachings, what would they be?  In other words, which words of the Word made flesh would you want to make sure that your children or grandchildren knew?  If you had a few minutes to explain to someone why you follow this Jesus, which of his words would you reference?  There is no one correct answer to this question, of course, but here's a preliminary list for your consideration:

  1. "The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you" (Jn 14:26):  The revelation of the Blessed Trinity is central mystery of our faith, a mystery which both surpasses and perfects all human comprehension.
  2. "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me" (Jn 14:6):  The mystery of the Incarnation, God coming to us "in the flesh" distinguishes Christianity from all other religions and worldviews, and it identifies Jesus as both the Messenger par excellence and the Message.
  3. "Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lk 24:26):  Christ's Redemption is the Good News that every human person longs to hear.
  4. "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him" (Jn 6:56): The gift of the Eucharist is inextricably linked to the fullness of life and to eternal life.
  5. "Be merciful just as your Father is merciful" (Lk 6:36): Divine mercy is the primary attribute of God, one which we are called to embody and personify.
  6. "Unless you become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 18:3): Spiritual childhood is the great task of the Christian life--utter trust in the love of the Father and confidence in our identification as children of God.
  7. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mk 8:34):  Happiness is found only through discipleship, and discipleship entails self-giving and self-sacrificing love.
  8. "Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear" (Mt 6:25): Trust in divine Providence is essential if we are to avoid the idolatries which threaten to dominate our daily lives.
  9. "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt 25:40).   The dignity of the human person is rooted in the real presence of the risen Lord in the poorest of the poor, those most marginalized, those who are suffering or isolated or abandoned.
  10. "Seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides" (Mt 6:33): Daily and revolutionary conversion is essential if we are to live in the freedom of the children of God.
So which of these sayings speak to your heart of hearts at this stage of your faith journey?  Which seem most incredible, most impractical, most impossible, or most "other worldly"?  What other sayings would you add to the list?  Which of Christ's words will you keep close to your heart and mind this week, and which will you draw forth as consolation in the face of all the pain and suffering in our daily lives--among family, friends and neighbors?

Finally, though you may have read various excerpts, this video of Pope Francis' Pentecost talk is most remarkable:  He responds to specific questions about arriving at the certainty of faith, about knowing Christ here and now, about being a poor Church for the poor, and about doing more in the name of Jesus.  The real-time English translation allows us to enjoy his animated, gregarious personality--a personality transformed by friendship with the Lord.

As we enter into the Church's liturgical season of "Ordinary Time," let's rediscover the Gospel's extraordinary revelations.  Let's continue opening ourselves to the Good News in order that we may continue to be transformed inside and out, since this is the revolution that our weary world awaits.