Jesus and Us

In the circles I run in, I sometimes hear conversations about two types of Christian spiritualities. Let's call one, "Jesus and me" and the other "Jesus and us." One might describe a "Jesus and Me" Christian as mostly concerned about their own salvation, personal prayers and devotions while the "Jesus and Us" Christian might be more concerned about the social teachings of the church, corporal works of mercy, action for justice, and communal prayer.

First off, I need to recognize that these are generalities at best, stereotypes at worst. In my own spiritual life, I have elements of both. For one thing, you can't really be a Christian without having some sort of relationship with Jesus Christ, and by definition that must be a personal relationship at a deep core level. But at the same time, I think one could argue that one can't be a Christian without having relationships with other people as well, especially the poor and vulnerable.

Enter today's first reading from the 1st letter of John:
Beloved, we love God because
he first loved us.
If anyone says, “I love God,”
but hates his brother, he is a liar;
for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen
cannot love God whom he has not seen.
This is the commandment we have from him:
Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
Seems pretty clear ... if we love God, we must also love our brother and sister. And not just those who we share close blood relations with. Oh no, as Christians, if we claim to follow this Jesus guy, then we need to listen to what he says. And if we pay attention to what he says he is about, then maybe we can find clues about what we are called to do in our own lives. As a case in point, let's look at today's Gospel, one of my favorites:

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up,
and went according to his custom
into the synagogue on the sabbath day.
He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down,
and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.
He said to them,
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

Woah ... this guy is serious. Who are our brothers and sisters? People who are poor, captives, the blind (literal and figurative I would say from Jesus' ministry), the oppressed. And what are we supposed to do? Look the other way? Ignore their suffering and continue on with our lives? No, if we follow Jesus then a key part of our spiritual lives includes bringing glad tidings to those who are poor, proclaiming liberty to captives, helping the blind recover their sight, and letting the oppressed go free. Big tasks that we can't begin to do on our own. Which perhaps is why we are called together as the body of Christ, to work in solidarity for justice, to love our God, to love our brother and sister as we love ourselves. Together ... Jesus and us.

1 comment:

Berg Manor said...

There's a reason why it's "Our Father," not "My Father."