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June 11, 2018 - Jesus and the New Normal

Memorial of Saint Barnabas, Apostle

Scripture Readings

After we experience major life events such as getting married, having a child, a new job, a death of a loved one, a move to a new place-life is significantly changed.  All that has happened before this experience does not disappear or become void, but things are not the same- this is what I would call the “new normal”.  As Christians, we are called to live a “new normal”- a life that is changed in great ways following Jesus and His call to discipleship. 

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus gives all of His followers the blueprint for being a disciple. The Beatitudes spell out how we are called to live-in mercy, peace, poverty of spirit, clean of heart, living lives where we mourn for the injustices of our world, and lives where we accept the persecution that arises because we follow Christ and work for the righteousness of the Kingdom.  Jesus does not abolish the many laws and commandments that were set forth as part of His Jewish faith. But Jesus takes these truths and grows them into a way of living that is different- a new normal.  As His follower, Jesus places love of God and neighbor at the core of how we live. Many times when we are experience major life changes, we struggle to be able to re-establish our new routine.  Jesus recognizes the challenges of living as His disciples, and so He share His Spirit with us to give us what we need to boldly live the calling of the Beatitudes.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we get a glimpse at what it is like to live in the Spirit of Christ. Barnabas (whose feast we celebrate today) travels to Antioch and sees the grace of God alive in the people of that town.  Barnabas encourages Paul to join him, and they spend a year sharing the gospel and calling others to follow Christ.  Many people turned to the Lord, and it is in Antioch where the disciples are first called “Christians.” St. Paul before his conversion had been a Pharisee- someone who was steeped in his Jewish faith.  His encounter with the Risen Christ brought about a significant change in the way that Paul lived.  He did not abandon his Jewish faith, but drew from these roots as he was transformed by the Holy Spirit to preach a new way of living- as a Christian- as a disciple of Jesus.

Living after major changes can often be difficult.  For example, after the birth of a child there is great rejoicing, but there is an entirely new way of living because of the many needs of the newborn- feeding, changing, sleepless nights etc.  When we become disciples of Christ, there are challenges as well.  Our former ways of how we use our time and money, and even the way we view the world is different. As a disciple we are called to look at others with the eyes of Christ. When we live this way, we see people as children of God in need of our mercy instead of just seeing them as drug addicts, illegal immigrants or homeless people on the corner of the highway asking for money.  Living the Beatitudes daily requires the work of the Spirit- we cannot do this alone.  Jesus warns us that we will be persecuted when we follow Him just as the prophets before us have been.  But Jesus also assures us that if we place our trust in Him and allow His Spirit to be alive in us, He will show us how to live this “new normal” of being a disciple.  Change can be difficult, but if we allow Christ to change us, we can become “blessed” not only here on earth, but we can look forward to enjoying our final destination of eternal blessing with Christ in heaven.

Loving Father, Your Son Jesus shows us a new way to live our lives in love and service to You and others.  With the grace of Your Spirit, inspire us to live as Christians- true disciples of Jesus.  May we live out our faith in our thoughts, words, and deeds, and may all that we do give you glory. We pray this through Christ, our LORD. Amen.

- Marylynn Herchline