Today’s Scripture Readings
I have commented before that the situation in which Christians find themselves today isn’t so different from the way things were in New Testament times. The simple reason is that the basics of human nature haven’t changed. What may be more important for us is we can be sure the ways of God haven’t changed either.
John’s second letter is to a community of Christians that is beginning to have doubts. They are beginning to wonder if belief in Jesus is important and whether the commandment to love each other is really the core of faithful living. Other preachers are raising questions and proposing other solutions to life’s challenges. John says they need to live a life of love based on a relationship with Jesus. If not, they will not have God’s message. They will lose what they had.
The Gospel is saying the same thing in more dramatic terms. Stay the course. Hold on to your faith because you never know when all of life may change. Luke puts this in catastrophic terms of floods and fire and brimstone. But the idea is that life and death is involved. I think it’s worthwhile to translate these images into everyday language. We may be tempted to take the physical images too literally and assume we are safe from tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes, even though recent news reports ought to give us pause even on this account. Or to think that Jesus’ is just referring to the end of time or the end of our life.
In this case, the issue is, will all the other things of modern life, today’s progressive ideas, the comfort of our culture eat away at what believing in Jesus and Catholic faith have to offer. Has the course of our life given us an outlook that no longer matches Jesus’ call for a life of love?
I would suggest to you that one important consideration is would I recognize an invitation from God to change my life? Is it possible that while I was in the middle of my everyday life, eating, drinking, buying, selling … that I would recognize the moment when I needed to leave everything behind or lose my life? Could there be times that are that dramatic in my life? Perhaps the situation isn’t dramatic but what is subtle, perhaps what lies just below the surface, may have just as important a consequence.
What if we weren’t talking about moments of physical choice? What if it wasn’t about which job or what relationship or what to do tonight but about, as John’s letter says, how I was walking through my own life? What if I was confronted with a challenge to my current ideas or attitudes? Might I have to change how I think in order to save my life, to stay faithful to the Gospel?
Perhaps the terrifying drama of the Gospel is about how frightening it can be to make significant choices in everyday life? Can I see God’s presence in the challenges to my ideas or the way I am walking through my life?
When the Apostles ask “Where?” they are acting as if the dangers to faith are out there beyond themselves in some physical place or location. But Jesus’ answer suggestions that the challenges to belief, the vultures, are wherever we are. The challenge to life is within ourselves. We need to remember that is also where God is. That is why it is so important to walk through all of life holding on to our faith in God and God’s love. So that when the moment to decide comes, dramatic or subtle, it will be clear what we need to hold on to and what we need to let go of.