Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Starting Again with Jesus

In praying the Rosary, one of the mysteries I find most difficult to pray is Mary and Joseph finding Jesus in the Temple. Somehow it doesn't quite stir my imagination like many other mysteries do (for instance, the Transfiguration, the Presentation, the Descent of the Holy Spirit).

I'm never very sure what the Finding in the Temple means, its significance. I should probably do some reading on it.

The meaning I generally assign to it is the constant need to "rediscover" Jesus. I don't know whether this is impious as it applies to Joseph and, especially, Mary. But I apply it to myself.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the need to rediscover Jesus, to start again with Jesus. It's so easy to forget that Christianity is centred on the person of Jesus Christ. I think there is a constant temptation to make Christianity something else: a social and cultural legacy, a side in a culture war, a set of attitudes, an aesthetic sensibility, etc. etc.

More than anything else, there is a temptation to shoehorn our own beliefs, priorities, and hobby-horses into the Gospel. I have fallen into this trap many, many times and struggle to escape it.

I think that even the desire to grow deeper in our Faith, to learn more about it, can put us in danger of this. It's all very well to immerse ourselves in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, the teachings of the Church Fathers, the writings of the saints, the writings of the visionaries, etc. etc. But when these become pitted against the teaching of the Pope and bishops, we're in trouble. We get drawn into faction-fighting within the Church, looking inward rather than outward.

One particular temptation I struggle with is the temptation to overlook the importance of human suffering, especially that of the poor.

I have an aesthetic view of life. I tend to worry about things like the decline of poetry or national traditions, rather than homelessness or hunger or poverty.

But reading the Gospel, the Bible, and the lives of the saints-- and even bearing in mind our Lord's rebuke to Judas in the house of Simon the leper-- it seems clear that God cares much more about human suffering than about such rather airy matters.

Although I've known poverty myself, I lack the visceral concern for the poor exhibited by the prophets, our Lord, and the saints. I feel particularly bad about this because I should have inherited it from my father and grandfather, who were always working for the betterment of the poor. I'm currently reading the autobiography of Dorothy Day, and her own concern for the poor is both inspiring and chastening. (This means poverty of all kinds, of course.)

Again and again, I find myself having to "start again with Jesus", to realize how far I've drifted off into my own preoccupations, and to try to open my heart to what he wants from me.

Pope Francis is currently delivering a series of addresses on discernment, so hopefully that will help me with my own "re-centring".

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