July 19th, 2005
Daniel Patrick O'Reilly
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Today’s scriptures are rich with visual images. Men of God stretching out their hands to perform great miracles or make incredible proclamations. In Exodus, the Egyptian army is in hot pursuit of the children of Israel. All appears lost. Then God provides a miracle. The Lord tells Moses to stretch his hand out over the sea. And the Israelites escape and the Egyptians are destroyed. In Matthew, Jesus is in conference with his disciples when his family arrives and asks for him. Jesus stretches out his hand and tells his disciples that anyone who does the will of the Father is Christ’s brother, sister and mother. Kind of amazing.
Do you ever have those days where you read an incredible Bible story and you ask, why isn’t it like that today? You sit in the pew and ask, shouldn’t there be something stupendous happening here? You wonder about your relationship with Christ. You wonder what it really means to be a Christian. What does it mean to be a follower of Christ? Is it a rare experience that belongs to the sensitive few? Only people like Moses or Matthew can achieve the level of spirituality that Christ desires. Spiritual people are saints. They don’t get their hands dirty with the stuff of every day life. If I could just withdraw from this down-and-dirty life of earning a living, being a husband, raising kids, paying the bills and mowing the grass, then I could pursue a real relationship with Christ.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! In fact, this way of thinking is so wrong, that it can undermine a rich and wonderful and desirable way of life. Who would you look to for a model of a truly spiritual life? Maybe Jesus? And did Jesus live in seclusion in the desert? Did he build a retreat center in the mountains? Did he sit silently chanting in the middle of silent crowds? Did he insulate himself from ordinary people or routine life? I don’t think so.
Jesus went to weddings, parties and funerals. In fact he cried at funerals. He talked to people of all walks of life. He told stories about such routine things as sweeping the floor, planting seeds, fishing and tending sheep. He had friends and family and he had issues with them at times. He cooked breakfast for his friends. He sweated, he got tired, he laughed and he got mad. He had to stretch his food budget to feed a crowd. I can especially identify with that one. Jesus, our model for a relationship with God, was extraordinary. He was the Son of God. It’s harder for me to grasp that he was ordinary, too. Even when Jesus performed miracles, they were in pretty ordinary circumstances and settings. He was just like you and me. He lived a somewhat routine life.
Being a Christian is not about taking up a new occupation or finding
a new place or looking for something spectacular and grandiose.
Being a follower of Christ does not place us in some unearthly,
elite, priestly class. It is living the life we have been given,
but with incredible purpose and promise. We are ambassadors for
Christ striving for the glory of God. We are Christ’s brothers
and sisters. We are God’s prized possessions. At work, with
family and in the daily routine, we should shine as people on a
mission. No matter how ordinary our life, we should shine so that
people know, or want to know, who we are. Children of God.
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