September 22, 2022
by Eileen Wirth
Creighton University retired
click here for photo and information about the writer

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 452

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11
Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17bc
Luke 9:7-9

Praying Ordinary Time

But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.


A military retiree friend has at least half a dozen guns in his home including an AR 15 while my favorite fridge magnet says, “Like Jesus would ever own a gun …”

Yet we both love Jesus and take our Christianity seriously. We focus on different parts of the Gospels and they shape our differing views on guns and probably other topics that we avoid to keep the friendship alive.

We exemplify the 2000-year-old question that Herod asks in today’s short passage from Luke. Just who is Jesus?. Obviously, it’s complicated or Christians wouldn’t have been fighting about the question since biblical times. Perhaps it is Jesus’ complexity that keeps us fascinated enough to keep asking that question.

A recent book, “Jesus and John Wayne,” by Kristin Kobes Du Mez, an evangelical historian, sheds light on a far more militaristic version of Christianity than I espouse but it’s extremely important for people like me to understand that viewpoint. 

Jesus commands us to love our enemies but opponents should not be enemies. It can be just as hard to listen with an open heart to good people like my friend who fundamentally disagree with me as to love enemies. We must find ways to embrace each other by finding  common ground whenever possible.

My friend, for example, is active in his church’s outreach to the poor just as I am. Common ground. He abhors racism, more common ground. He has also raised a wonderful family, still more that we share.

I wish I were a model of being open-hearted as Jesus commands in the Sermon on the Mount. I’m not, especially when it comes to judging masses of people with whom I don’t have a relationship. It’s hard and like most people, I tend to fail when things are difficult.

Baby steps, I tell myself. Take baby steps. That’s why I’ve just invited my friend for dinner. Maybe we’ll just talk about sports and the weather but someday maybe we’ll have the courage to lovingly discuss the significant differences in our Christian beliefs.

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