|Memorial of Saint Boniface,
bishop and martyr
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11
It is early summer, if not on the calendar, certainly in the weather we are experiencing. Summer has in recent years been a time of nostalgia for me - a hearkening back to early years of respite from responsibilities, enjoying the world around me, and in general relaxing and becoming more basic, less cluttered in my life. Then school starts in the fall and life winds up again in all its complexity and urgency, eventually relegating summer's siestas to wistful memories. For those who do not have the summer schedule of an academic, the same slowing happens through a good vacation, and in the generally slower pace of summer.
Today's gospel reminds me of this summer state of mind. Jesus prays for us, those who believe in Him through the word of those who were in His presence. Those first believers who traveled and listened to Jesus could observe and feel firsthand the power of His message. They were the first filters of what has become for us a very rich, but very complex, faith tradition. I would suspect that if a time machine transported one of those first disciples to our time, they would have difficulty understanding what we do today in the name of Jesus. I hope they would, upon reflection, recognize the core of His teachings, but there is much that would seem unconnected to them, and perhaps inconsistent. I suspect they would yearn with nostalgia to return to their own time.
But if we used the same time machine to transport us back to those times, what would we find? I think we would see more fervor, more emotion, more simple acceptance, more wonder and awe, than we see among our own faith communities today. When we came back from that time machine journey, I think we would yearn with nostalgia to return to that simpler time, to that clearer vision, to that faith-filled awe. We would be pulled to stay in our own place and time, yet also to return to the time of Jesus.
But there are no time machines, no means to travel back and forth. We must live in this time and place, and try to make sense of our life as we find it. We can not return to the Israel of 2,000 years ago anymore than we can return to the summers of our youth. But while we can't physically return, we can recall the feelings that accompanied us in those prior times. And we can live our lives with those simpler, stronger feelings.
And so, today and during the summer, I pray for that nostalgic feeling
of simplicity, of faith-filled awe, of wonder and peace that Jesus' first
followers felt in His presence, while I live in my own place and time of
complexity and distraction.
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