Sunday, October 14, 2007

3rd Luminous Mystery: The Proclamation of the Kingdom (Matthew)

I am scared. There is no other way to describe my feelings at this moment. I have just been listening to Jesus describing people who are happy and who are especially blessed by God and I just feel sick to my stomach.

All that Jesus says sounds so simple but take a look at the implications and your reaction will be the same as mine.

For instance, a few days ago he declared that we should become like children. How? It is a straightforward question. Why is the answer not equally uncomplicated?

Look into the eyes of a child, especially a young child, and there is a clarity and innocence that is possessed by very few adults.

How can I regain that innocence after spending so many years collecting taxes on behalf of the Romans? I know I was not always honest in my dealings. I made a good deal of profit illegally. Sure, once I met Jesus, I gave all my money away to the poor, but I still have all that baggage of earlier years on my back, weighing me down. I have many unhappy memories of my misdemeanours. How do I let go of those and regain the clear vision of a child?

Jesus has just laid down eight guidelines for happiness. On the surface, they sound crazy. He talks about the blessedness of the poor, the simple, the pure in heart and those who hunger and thirst for justice, suffering persecution in the cause of right.

I can understand someone being so single-mindedly committed to the Almighty that they will brave anything in order to follow his will. Look at Eleazar and the Maccabees. As we keep hearing in the Synagogue, they were courageous people. However, I am not Eleazar or a Maccabee. Eleazar was beaten to death as an old man for refusing to eat pork. The Maccabees were young men whose refusal to deny the Lord led to them having their tongues and their fingers cut off before eventually being tortured to death. With the best will in the world, I do not think that I could do that. I am Matthew. I am not brave. I do not want to be hurt. It is all very well to be good, but I do not want to lay down my life in the process. I want to be good, but without suffering and pain.

Purity is good as an ideal, but surely everybody who has ever lived has had thoughts and mental images that have been anything but pure? It is something that takes a lifetime to achieve and still it remains a goal out in front, beyond the reach of many.

Peacemaking is wonderful. We all want to live in peace, but sometimes they are the very ones who are hurt, caught between warring factions, receiving the blame from all sides for their interference. I want to be a peacemaker, but preferably at no cost to myself.

Jesus wants us to proclaim the Kingdom, to follow his example. Left to myself, it is beyond my capabilities. By myself, I cannot even take the first step along the road towards the Kingdom… but I am saying ‘by myself’. Is that where I am going wrong? I am not alone. He has promised to be with me. That makes the difference. Perhaps if I try, he will make good the deficit?

God bless,
Sr. Janet