While traveling (and not frantically rushing to the gate to catch my plane) I sometimes ‘people watch’ other travelers. Some are students or business people engaged with their laptops until the very last moment before boarding. There are families, with two or three little ones in tow, each with her/his carry-on wheeling down the concourse. On occasion there is the obvious athletic team or a tourist group gathered in various clusters, excitedly sharing their recent adventures together.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is in traveling mode, making his way to towns and villages as he proclaims the Good News of God’s love. The scripture passage which seems so matter-of-fact on the surface (Jesus and his followers journeyed together to the surrounding countryside) carried a startling message to the people in those towns and villages, even before Jesus opened his mouth. Jesus is traveling with a rather large group of twelve plus men AND some women who are not traveling with their fathers, sons, husbands or a male relative, which was the acceptable practice of the day. The passage also identifies the women ( Mary of Magdala, Johanna, and Suzanna and others who provided for Jesus and the others through their own funds.)
To an onlooker in those small villages and towns, Jesus was certainly drawing attention not only to the message of God’s love in his words, but in how he lived (and traveled) with others. God’s love and presence calls everyone to respond and Jesus witnessed this over and over by whom he called his friends and companions.
As a Christian (Christ follower), do I live my life as witnessed by Jesus – a living message of God’s love for everyone? Whom do I call my friends? With whom do I associate, connect with, invite into my day to day life? To whom am I available?
Interestingly, in today’s first reading, Paul challenges
the people of Corinth who have questioned the resurrection of the
dead, and thus the resurrection of Jesus. I can’t help but
smile at the echo of the same questioning when the disciples found
it difficult to believe the women and Mary of Magdala who first
witnessed Jesus’ resurrection. Was the struggle of belief
in the idea of resurrection and/or the witness by those not permitted
to bear witness (women) in that culture?
As I ponder these questions and reflections from today’s readings, I pray that I will re-center my focus on the real message: God is love and invites all to accept, respond and celebrate God’s presence in our lives. How will I live this message of love, especially with those who may not agree with my beliefs and point of view? Perhaps this will be especially important as I/we in the United States enter the last six weeks of preparing for our presidential election.
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