Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Be Glorious

[H]ow much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory. Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory in this respect because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was going to fade was glorious, how much more will what endures be glorious. 2 COR 3:8-11

"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law until all things have taken place. Matthew 5:17-18

Let us get up then, at long last, for the scriptures rouse us when they say: "It is high time for us to arise from sleep (Rom 13:11)." Let us open our eyes to the light that comes from God, and our ears to the voice from the heavens that every day calls out this charge: "If you hear God's voice today, do not harden your hearts (Ps 95:8)." And again: "You that have ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit says to the churches (Rv 2:7)." And what does the Spirit say? "Come and listen to me; I will teach you to reverence God (Ps 34:12)." Run while you have the light of life, that the darkness of death may not overtake you (Jn 12:35)." (From the Prologue of The Rule of St. Benedict)

Just about every word uttered by Jesus could be considered a new commandment.  However, just because he issued two basic commandments, does not mean that he absolved anyone from adhering to the instructions of the original Ten Commandments. He reminds us of that very fact today. 

At one point in my education, I thought Jesus changed everything. Yet I have come to realize that while he changed a lot, he did not toss out the best of the past. Paul’s message to Corinth emphasizes that in the new options presented by Jesus for life in the Spirit according to his Great Commandments.  These only replace what will fade with what will endure. 

As the New American Bible notes remind us, the real “turning of the ages” came with the death and resurrection of Jesus – not the end of the world when literally the earth will pass away. The people Matthew addresses in the Good News already are living in the new age, prophesied by Isaiah as the time of “new heavens and a new earth” (Is 65:17; 66:22). During the new age of Jesus’ ministry, the kingdom is rising from the ground up.  This new age ministry remains within the framework of the “law and the prophets,” though with significant anticipation of the glorious age of the Spirit yet to come.

New Age has interesting connotations in modern American culture.  The “New Age” is a term applied to a range of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices that developed in during the 1970s.  Think hippies and flower children.  Although considered to be religious, those involved in it typically prefer the designation "spiritual."  The practices are removed from any connection to Jesus, Christianity or any specific dogma or theology.  We have heard this referred to as a time of peace, love, and happiness. 

Jesus ushered in a New Age yet he also was careful not to promise us a Rose Garden of earthly delights or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  Suffering for His sake on our personal cross is the differentiating factor between these modern new age spiritualists and the faith-life lessons taught by Jesus in the Be-attitudes and beyond. 

As Matthew Kelly writes in Rediscover Jesus: An Invitation, “Our God is a God of second chances, fresh starts, and new beginnings.”  As Jesus ushered in the new heaven and new earth, he gave us the chance for a fresh start just like we get every morning when the son (Son) comes up in our lives.

Just as Jesus transformed the laws and the prophets to give them the added dimension of love, he transformed people’s lives and the lives they touched. Moses. Job. Joseph. Mary. Cephas. John. Saul. And thousands of others whom we do not know their names. The Prodigal Son. His anonymous brother.  The Good Samaritan. The widow and her two coins. The centurion’s servant.  The leper. Peter’s mother-in-law.

“Jesus is the ultimate new beginning,” Kelly writes. 

What is happening in your life right now?  Do you need or want a change?  A new group?  A new assignment or volunteer job?  If you don’t know where to start, maybe you can pick up a copy of Rediscover Jesus for some ideas. (www.DynamicCatholic.com)

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