In the gospel reading for Catholics on the last Sunday of January 2014, Jesus asks us to repent and announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. If we take time to really look around at the world we can see God all around us. Look at a beautiful sunset. Hear the cry of a baby. See the gaze of a loved one.
When you get used to looking for God all around, it becomes hard not to see and feel God’s presence. I believe that is what Jesus is trying to tell us in the gospel. Pope Francis echoes Jesus words when he spoke of not just trying to find God in the future or the past, but to encounter the living God right now. In the gospel of Thomas, Jesus is reported saying, “Split wood, I am there; lift up a rock, you will find me there”. The kingdom of God is at hand.
How do we find this kingdom? Jesus tells us to repent. This does not just mean to get on our knees and confess our sins. This is something deeper. Jesus is asking us to change our lives - our ways of thinking - our ways of viewing the world. A changed mind is essential. Jesus’ conception of kingdom is quite different than what we typically conceive. Look at the cross and see that Jesus is talking about something very different. In order to find this kingdom we must open ourselves up and make some
choices in our lives that will bring us closer to the kingdom. It is somewhat like grocery shopping. You enter a store and see all of the choices. You can choose to fill your cart with things like fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean meat or you can buy things like fatty meats, frozen pizza, sugar filled beverages and candy. When we look at our lives, we can make choices about how we spend our time. It may feel good to attain things in life like money, knowledge and prestige, but these things may not always serve us well. We build ourselves up and our lives become so much about us there is no room for God.
So the spiritual life seems to be more about letting things go than it is about building things up. When we let go of ourselves we leave more room for God.
This is not an easy task.
Thankfully, God is patient.
People are in different places on the journey and wherever you are God is there – waiting and loving us into real transformation. Maybe Jesus is asking us today - what do we need to leave behind so we can better know God? How can we better open ourselves to the presence of God all around us?
Can we trust God enough to let ourselves go and make room for God in our lives?
Life in the spirit
John is a professional musician and a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church. His blog will center around the arts in spirituality and how spirituality applies to everyday life.
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