I remember my eldest son’s history teacher explaining to the parents at orientation that if she said something was a certain way then it was the truth, even if she was wrong. She later proved the veracity of her statement when my son had the audacity to write the correct definition of evolution on a test. It wasn’t her definition – so she marked it as being wrong.
The gospel is constantly calling us out of our own little worlds into a wider and more generous life. God calls us to move beyond our own perspectives and to truly see the beauty and need that surrounds us. That was what made Jesus so extraordinary. He didn’t just stand there and tell people how he thought things should be or what they should do. He looked first. He listened first. And he looked with the eyes and ears of a heart attuned to God’s infinite compassion.
Jesus saw through the shallow, rule-keeping version of faith shared by so many of his countrymen – rules used to keep people in their place and order the universe according to their human understanding and power. Instead, he sought to find God’s love and truth in God’s world. He was a child of a great and ancient tradition of faith, and his faith insisted there was more to come.
His pilgrimage in life brought him closer and closer to the reality of God’s presence in the whole world. He invited that presence to teach him what to do, how to go forward, and what to say – which is precisely why the institutional religious leaders of the day became so angry. They saw themselves as the guardian of the tradition, as those qualified to make judgment, and as the keepers of a truth already revealed and fixed.
Jesus was offensive to them because as a devout practitioner of the same faith, he had come up with different answers, and he acted accordingly. God, in Jesus’ view, was doing things God’s way and it was all about making all things new all the time.
So “he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
Are you ready?
The Rev. Susan N. Eaves