Meeting Jesus Anew

The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home

January 23rd, 2022 – Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-24

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We are reminded right at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel that he is writing this gospel to give an accurate historical account of the words, the deeds and the life of Jesus Christ. And how blessed are we and how grateful we should be that he has done so. Along with the other gospel writers. How many of us have based our lives on what’s written in the four gospels? As a Catholic and Christian, and as a professional theologian, professor and author, I cannot even imagine my life without the gospels. So, I begin this reflection by thanking Luke, Mark, Matthew and John (and whoever assisted them) for their efforts in creating the gospels.

And how serious we should all be as students of the gospels. They are unique among the writings that constitute all religious literature. Yes, we know a few features of the lives of Buddha, Confucius, Moses and Mohamed, but not nearly as much as we know about that itinerant preacher who travelled the paths and byways of ancient Palestine, especially in Israel, Samaria and Judea.

And from personal experience, I can say that the well from which we draw ideas and insight from the gospels provides a limitless source of knowledge and wisdom. I have been writing versions of these Nazareth Pages for more than twenty years. And I will let you in on a secret. I never repeat myself. I never look back to previous reflections and simply copy them every four years. I begin each and every one with a blank page. I put myself into a mind set that tries to create in me a sense of wonder as if I am reading it for the first time.

A well-respected biblical scholar, Marcus Borg, wrote a book a few years back called Meeting Jesus for the First Time. In that work he invited the reader to re-imagine the person of Jesus, along with his words and deeds in a way one would if encountering that historical figure for the first time. In other words, set aside childhood images of Jesus or even a lifetime of listening to sermons or homilies about him, and then take up the gospels and read them afresh. I try to do that as much as I can.

And that’s possible to do partly because the risen Christ remains among us, closer to us than we might ever imagine. And he continues to teach us. He only needs us to listen with open eyes and ears and a receptive heart. I imagine that if Jesus ever returned to live a second life with us right now, he would do much the same he did two-thousand years ago. Except, he might also be on twitter or have regular podcasts.

©David M. Thomas, PhD

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