Sunday’s Gospel struck me because there are often teachings of Jesus that are hard to accept. Can you relate?
Suffering and carrying the cross. Loving your neighbor (especially the one you don’t want to love). Dying to self. Humbling oneself. Radical generosity. Simple living. Poverty of spirit. Forgiving those who hurt you again and again. Compassion when you’re hurting. Having faith in what is unseen. Not worrying about tomorrow. Not being afraid and trusting. Leaving “everything” and following.
In fact, Jesus’ whole way of life is a hard thing to accept if we fully comprehend that we are called to live as He did. None of these things are very easy. In many ways, they contradict our human nature. They are things we are constantly challenged with and have to grow into.
Yet as I was pondering how hard these teachings are to accept, the Lord led me to another line in the Gospel: These words are Spirit and Life.
That’s true because when you do start to accept these words and embrace these hard truths and ways of living that Jesus taught and modeled, they are rather liberating. They bring forth something mysteriously life-giving and freeing.
That’s because they are what is best for us. They are meant to give us more abundant life and lead us closer to the Spirit. All you need to do is look at those phrases and ask yourself if they led you to something better than the alternative: Was I better off forgiving that person? Yes. Was I more at peace without those fears and worries? Yes. Did simplicity free me to care about the most important things? Yes. Did being generous leave me empty? No, but rather a more full heart. Did loving my neighbor result in anything bad? No, in fact a better relationship.
So accept His words. Wrestle with how they challenge you. But most importantly, let them move and change you -- they are for your good.
A better, more Spirit-filled life awaits!