BishopBarron|品圣言＆入圣心（8-12日合集）2018-06-13 10:49:24 阅读量:1558
Friends, in today’s Gospel, John tells us that a Roman soldier, in order to verify that Jesus was dead, thrust a lance into the side of the crucified Christ, “and at once blood and water came out.” Physicians tell us that this is a credible account, given that the lance would have pierced the pericardium, the sac around the heart, which contains a watery substance.
What does this event mean? Theologians have speculated that the blood and water have a symbolic valence, evoking the sacraments of Eucharist and Baptism.
But which first-century Jew would have missed the most obvious interpretation? This was the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy that when Yahweh cleansed his temple, water would flow forth for the renewal of the world.
Friends, today’s Gospel tells the familiar story of Mary and Joseph finding twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple. When they find him, they upbraid him with understandable exasperation: "Child, why have you treated us like this?" But Jesus responds, "Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?"
The story conveys a truth that runs sharply counter to our sensibilities: even the most powerful familial emotions must, in the end, give way to mission. Though she felt an enormous pull in the opposite direction, Mary let her Son go, allowing him to find his vocation in the Temple. Legitimate sentiment devolves into sentimentality precisely when it comes to supersede the call of God.
On a biblical reading, the family is, above all, the forum in which both parents and children are able to discern their missions. It is perfectly good, of course, if deep bonds and rich emotions are cultivated within the family, but those relationships and passions must cede to something that is more fundamental, more enduring, more spiritually focused.
The paradox is this: precisely in the measure that everyone in the family focuses on God’s call for one another, the family becomes more loving and peaceful.
Friends, in today’s Gospel, relatives of Jesus claim that he is mad, and scribes blaspheme him, charging that he is possessed by Beelzebul. You know, in cases like this, the basic problem is always the fearful ego. Ego-addicts know that sometimes the best defense is a good offense. If you want to protect the ego and its prerogatives, you must oppress and demoralize those around you.
There is a very unsubtle version of this method: you attack, put down, insult, and undermine those around you. This is the method of the bully. But the religious version is much subtler and thus more insidious and dangerous. It takes the Law itself—especially the moral law—and uses it to accuse and oppress. "I know what’s right and wrong; I know what the Church expects of us; and I know that you are not living up to it."
And so I accuse you; I gossip about you; I remind you of your inadequacy. Mind you, this is not to condemn the legitimate exercise of fraternal correction or the office of preaching. But it’s a reminder to not be sucked into the slavery of ego addiction. We must stay alert to this and avoid it at all costs.
Friends, our Gospel for today is one of the most beautiful and important in the New Testament: the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, the eight Beatitudes. Why is it so important? Because it is the Son of God telling us how to be happy. It is the one who can’t be wrong telling us how to achieve that which each of us most basically wants. What could be more compelling?
At the heart of Jesus’ program are these Beatitudes: “Blessed are the merciful” and “Blessed are the peacemakers.” These name the very heart of the spiritual program, for they name the ways that we participate most directly in the divine life.
One of the most important words to describe God in the Old Testament is chesed (tender mercy). The New Testament version of this is found in the first letter of John: God is agape (love). Everything else we say about God should be seen as an aspect of this chesed and this agape. Chesed is compassion; agape is willing the good of the other. Therefore, if you want to be happy, desire to be like God. Do it and you’ll be happy.
Friends, in today’s Gospel Jesus uses the images of salt and light to show how we are to bring salvation to the world. In our rather privatized and individualistic culture, we tend naturally to think of religion as something for ourselves designed to make our lives richer or better. Now there is a sense in which that is true, but on the biblical reading, religiosity is like salt, light, and an elevated city: it is meant not for oneself, but for others.
Perhaps we can bring these two together by saying that we find salvation for ourselves precisely in the measure that we bring God’s life to others. The point is that we followers of Jesus are meant to be salt, which effectively preserves and enhances what is best in the society around us. We effectively undermine what is dysfunctional in the surrounding culture.
We are also light by which people around us come to see what is worth seeing. By the very quality and integrity of our lives, we shed light, illuminating what is beautiful and revealing what is ugly. The clear implication is that, without vibrant Christians, the world is a much worse place.