Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Don't fling yourself in to the pigsty!

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Mass Readings:
Genesis 13:2, 5-18
Matthew 7:6, 12-14

One of the most surprising things for me about Jesus is his great sense of humor. Every time I see a movie about Jesus, he is portrayed as some solemn, moping, humorless guy who is always stern. Well, that and he is usually blond haired and blue eyed. Last time I checked, Jesus wasn't from Switzerland.

Anyhow, we find in the Gospels that Jesus has a great grasp of the absurd. Jesus uses phrases that make us sit up and listen because they seem, well, absurd. Take today's Gospel for instance. How many of us throw holy things to dogs? How many of us take a handful of pearls and throw them into a pigsty? So yeah, Jesus gets our attention by making us scratch our heads.

I think Jesus gives us some beautiful spiritual direction today. I believe that in Jesus' absurd phrases he tells us several things. First, don't throw your life away. I find in his talk of throwing holiness to dogs and pearls in to pigsties is a warning to not throw our lives away. We tend to seek the softer easier way in all things and we can end up selling our soul. We are "fearfully and wonderfully" made in God's image. So why do we seek out all manner of ways to degrade our selves? We can so readily throw what is holy and priceless, our soul, away for a little bit of pleasure and ease. Jesus calls us to live a different way.

Second, seek to do what is right. Do unto others as we would want them to do to us. Jesus is telling us to "be nice". A very simple command yet we find a thousand ways to defy it. The more venom we spew, the more venom we receive in turn. Everything gets worse and then we wonder why the world is "going to hell in a hand basket"! Nothing gets better if we don't try to make things better. Kindness, mercy, forgiveness is what Jesus calls us to practice.

Third, quit trying to find the back door in to Heaven. Jesus instructs us to be focused on God. the way to life is not about doing whatever we want. The "narrow gate" is easy to see if we quit trying to find a way over the fence. We can be so obsessed with wanting to make God do and see things "my way" that we completely miss the right way standing in front of us.

Prayer. Respect. Faithfulness. Jesus calls us to surrender our self to his love, his way of life. If we live what we claim to believe, then we will stay out of the spiritual pigsty, treat one another as children of the Living God, and focus on the path that leads to God.