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July 9, 2017 - Jesus Teaches Me Three Things

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture Readings

We may not think too much about this, but everything we know, we act, we think, and we live is learned. Think about a new born infant. Besides breathing, hunger, sleep, wailing, and of course pooping, the baby knows very little. Many of these behaviors are instinctual. A new born baby has very little intentionality. What the baby learns as he or she grows up depends on the home and society. As a child grows up, he or she learns behaviors, attitudes, and perspectives. Everything we know, act, think, and live today - is learnt. 

As rich as today’s scripture readings are, a single phrase caught my attention. In the gospel reading, Jesus says, “learn from me.” “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart.” My reflection over the last few days has revolved around this question - what is it that I must learn from Jesus? What is Jesus teaching me? 

Three things:

1. Relationship with God. We know that Jesus came from God. Once upon the earth, he not only related to God as his father and also taught his disciples to call God, “abba.” What I learn from Jesus is how consistent he is in his relationship with his father. No matter what else changes around him, his relationship with God never changes. There were no good days and bad days in his relationship with God. The events of his life did not make him blow hot or cold. He was not thrilled with God one day and question God’s wisdom the next. His was a simple yet firm, faithful, deep, loving, consistent relationship. I have my own relationship with God. However, what I learn from Jesus is the unshakeable consistency of his prayer, his faith and his dependence on God. Sometimes I am shaken. Sometimes I am not as passionate. Sometimes I do not take care of this relationship as the most precious one. Jesus, let me learn. 

2. Relationship with Others. When we think of Jesus’ relationship, we must think of two categories of people: those he ministered to and those that opposed his ministry. Those who opposed his ministry did it because of the claims he made about his relationship with God as father. They also opposed him because of the kind of God he revealed - the God who came not for the righteous but sinners. And then there were those he ministered to - the tax collectors, the sinners, those on the peripheries, and even his enemies. In his relationship with both who opposed him and those that he ministered to, he never compromised their human dignity. He only did good. He never repaid evil with evil. He forgave even his most bitter enemies. As today’s gospel reading tells us, he was meek and humble of heart. This meekness and humility defined his relationship with his family, his friends, his disciples, his fellow people and his enemies. There is one more thing. He taught the world to love. If there is one thing the world remembers him, it is this - that he loved from his heart. This I must learn from Jesus - to love like he loved; to treat people like he did; to not compromise the dignity of even my enemies; to not let laws and traditions come in the way of mercy and compassion. “Jesus, please let me learn.”

3. Relationship with Self. The thing that I admire most about Jesus is his integrity. I could not point to one instance where he did not himself practice what he taught. Whether it is the Beatitudes, or the Sermon on the Mount, or every other thing he preached or taught his disciples, he was the first to himself practice it. If there is one thing he opposed in his opponents, it was hypocrisy. There is one thing we cannot accuse Christ of - hypocrisy. We see it most of all on the cross and the events that lead him there. Everything that he believed and taught about his relationship with God and others was tested as he suffered and died. In spite it all, he never veered from his own teaching. To his last breath he was man of integrity. Jesus, please let me learn. 

What does it mean, “to learn?” To learn something means that it becomes instinctive. Think about driving. The moment another object comes in front of us we instinctively apply the breaks. We do not have to think about it. We instinctively do it. Its second nature. When Jesus says, “learn from me,” he is saying that his way of life must become instinctive in us. We have a lifetime to get there. Let us be on our way. May this Eucharist help us to learn. 

- Fr. Satish Joseph