John the Baptist, Jesus, the Paulists and the Holy Father

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by Brian Flagg,

Here is one more reason I am a super-blessed vato.

Since I became a disciple of Jesus when I was 22, I have come to believe that the keys to life, the keys to the Kingdom, can be found in the Holy Scriptures, especially the 4 gospels.

Many years ago I started to subscribe to a little book put out by the Paulists called Pan de la Palabra. It has the readings for the daily mass, puro en Español, along with a very insightful short commentary on the readings.

Hopefully this discipline is good for my soul and my dreadful lack of proficiency en Español.

Every day after the commentary, there is a little section entitled La Palabra en tu vida, the Word in your life. This month the Paulists are connecting the days’ readings to The Joy of the Gospel, by Papa Francisco! I find it extremely rich.

Francis is an incredibly wise, spirit filled teacher. That is because he points to the life of Jesus and calls all of us to deeply contemplate that life and then get out to the street and imitate him!

In today’s Gospel Mt.21 (28-32), we find Jesus blasting the religious leaders of his time. It’s much better in Español. He tells them that John the Baptist came to them preaching the path of justice but they refused to believe him.

The Paulists say that Jesus is pointing out to the religious high ups that many prostitutes and tax collectors have understood and embraced the message but not them. The Paulists insist that John the Baptist and Jesus went to the street to fulfill their mission as evangelizers, the mission being to offer purification to all so that people would be able to invoke the name of the Lord and evangelize!

The Paulists then throw the ball to Pope Francis! In paragraphs 268, 269 and 270 in The Joy of the Gospel he gives us the flavor of how Jesus entered into the reality of other people’s lives with the power of tenderness (270).

He says in #268 that in order to live a life of evangelization, “we need to develop a spiritual taste for being close to the people’s lives.”

In #269 Pope Francis says, “Jesus himself is the model of this method of evangelization which brings us to the very heart of his people. How good it is for us to contemplate the closeness which he shows to everyone! If he speaks to someone, he looks into their eyes with deep love and concern: “Jesus, looking upon him, loved him” (MK 10:21). We see how accessible he is, as he draws near the blind man (cf. Mk 10:46-52) and eats and drinks with sinners (cf. Mk 2:16) without worrying about being thought a glutton and a drunkard himself (cf. Mt 11:19). We see his sensitivity in allowing a sinful woman to anoint his feet (cf. Lk 7:36-50) and in receiving Nicodemus by night (cf. Jn 3:1-15). Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is nothing else than the culmination of the way he lived his entire life. Moved by his example, we want to enter fully into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, listening to their concerns, helping them materially and spiritually in their needs, rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep; arm in arm with others, we are committed to building a new world. But we do so not from a sense of obligation, not as a burdensome duty, but as the result of a personal decision which brings us joy and gives meaning to our lives.”

Jesus is prophetic, confrontational and revolutionary, but at the same time he is totally relational and loving, like a good community organizer!

I think this means we all have to make big serious efforts at imitating Jesus – or else not claim to be Christians?

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