We are in the midst of a courtship process. Jesus is walking through the villages of his time and into the living spaces of our own hearts. He continues performing those acts of healing and feeding, teaching and comforting, which are meant to impress us and encourage us to follow him.
This week we sit down with him on the side of a hill, while he sets out his personal inauguration address. He has revealed himself as the one who fulfills the prophet Isaiah’s foretelling of the one who would have the Spirit upon him to bring good news and recovery. Jesus now foretells how he sees himself living as well as those who would be so attracted to him so as to live like him.
We sit down with the other disciples and watch their reactions to this strange new way of living and interacting. Perhaps you see some who smile at such simplicity and naïveté. Perhaps you catch sight of a few faces who begin glowing with excitement as they want to hear more of what fires their imaginations.
There might be one or two things you may wish that he had not said as you listened. You may resist or find personal difficulty in imagining yourself being meek or poor of spirit. It is very humbling and blessed to pray with our resistances to his teachings. He knows our ways, and our ways are so deeply influenced by the ways of this earth and our cultures.
The one who is doing the inviting does so with full awareness of our ways; he embraces them and calls us through them. We are of this earth and he asks us to learn a radically new way that is as strange to us as walking and living on another planet. We continue watching and listening and letting him come closer so that the transition to the new planet will not be so strange or even absurd. We learn, as did the early members of his way, to embrace our real fears and questions about following Jesus so intimately. His teachings are meant to put us all in the tensions with which the early followers found themselves. These tensions are caused by our having lived so long according to our own cultural and personal inauguration addresses.
The call of Jesus to each of us is not an impatient imperative but rather a timely invitation to a relationship that will slowly move our desires to live those ways that moved others to distance themselves from the Master. Perhaps as we pray this week, we find fewer and fewer listeners remaining on the hillside. We have felt the inclinations to silently slip away having wonderful excuses and with great promises and intentions to return.
Here we are, though, still listening to his words, listening to our own inner words. The prayer for us this week remains. Is there a call welling up in me out there?