Most of us have no quarrel with Jesus. When he says love one another and welcome little children, and peace I leave with you, we find nothing difficult or objectionable in these sayings. Most of what Jesus has to say sounds like good moral advice or happy and reassuring thoughts.
Exploring the Word
There are two kinds of people, as the saying usually begins. And scripture tends to bear this out with numerous points of comparisons between the just and the wicked, or the wise person and the fool. Today’s readings cluster around the contrasting of those who are blessed versus those who are cursed.
Make a list of all the truly good people you have known. Don’t be shy: Put yourself on the list if you think you have the moral fiber to be there. My list would certainly include my maternal grandmother, the model of every generous impulse I’ve ever had; a loving teacher in high school who took a special interest in me and other struggling students; a friend I made in seminary who didn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body; and my young niece, who is the most compassionate little soul on the planet.
Imagine that every Bible in the world was about to be destroyed, and you only had time to snatch up one page for safekeeping. One page only, to be your moral guidepost and your consolation. One page of scripture to represent the whole message of the gospel!
Life is complicated. Most of us don’t live our years in a perfectly straight line without a few twists and turns. And sometimes we choose outright departures from the original direction we were headed. Opportunities arise that we had never even considered, and we take the risk to follow them.
“That woman,” a friend observed, nodding to a somber figure across the room, “is followed by a black cloud.” What he meant was that the person in question seemed perpetually haunted, a steadfast messenger of bad news and victim of “unlucky breaks.”
Seen Jesus lately? Seriously, where would you go to look, if Jesus was the one you were looking for?
Thank God for those three kings! For those of us who can’t bear to see the holidays end and chronically have a hard time taking down the Christmas tree each year, the Feast of the Epiphany supplies one more excuse to keep the holiday spirit going.
Is there another word in the English language more loaded than the word mother? Some people melt at the sound of it; others grow rigid at the thought of it. Behind the word for every hearer is a memory, or the absence of one; a woman, or the outline of where that woman ought to have been; a warm, nurturing, irreplaceable emblem of love or an iceberg of unrequited affection and unmet need.
How could you possibly lose Jesus? He’s the boy with the radiant halo and the singular genealogy. Follow the trail of minor miracles and cured childhood colds and there he is. Or so we might imagine. After all, Mary and Joseph had one child. Was it so difficult to keep track of their adolescent?