January 25, 2017

This past Sunday at St. Vincent Ferrer, Fr. Walter Wagner really knocked it out of the park. The following reflection is my best attempt to shamelessly plagiarize his work. HERE are the readings from that day, as well as a link to Matthew 4, which is referenced throughout my reflection.

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If somebody wants to make an impact on the world, what is their first step? Well, they need to go where they will be heard and heeded. Jesus should have gone to Jerusalem, built up a powerful following that the government couldn't help but acknowledge or empower. Many, many Israelites held this type of messianic vision (cf. the interesting hypotheses about Barabbas as a rebel leader).

Yet when Jesus first stepped onto the scene following his baptismal inauguration into his life of public ministry, what was his first step? He went to the fringes: first the desert (symbolically opposite to the Garden of Eden) to be tempted, then to backwater towns of Nazareth and Capernaum.

Why?

First and foremost, Jesus was intimately connected to and guided by the Holy Spirit. The will of the Father was always the primary concern in His life, and boundless trust in the paternal Person of God was the source of Jesus' power. Jesus was not concerned with popular opinion, political momentum, or 'muscularity' and 'posturing.' He was not out to make his voice heard above all the noise; His goal was to love and to save. He trusted that the Father would bring His mission to fulfillment in a way that reached every corner of humanity.

The difference between the modern politician/influencer and Jesus Christ is fundamental: it is the difference between compelling and attracting.

In a world where we're comparing crowd sizes to prove which political argument is more valid (Seriously?! Are "crowd scientists" a thing?), look how stark and striking Jesus' invitation of the first apostles seems:

 

The Call of the First Disciples.

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.

He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

At once they left their nets and followed him.

 

He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them,

and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

 

Compare the telling simplicity of Jesus' call to our new president's speeches. To his posturing. To his desperate desire for people to take him seriously and to exert his will upon others. To his constant need to reassure people that he will fix problems and actually do what presidents are supposed to do. He's got great plans, the best plans, and don't worry what they are because he has a plan to fix things and compel others to go along with clearly one-sided deals. The blind isolationism. Sad!

So we are called to live like Christ. We are called to true leadership that attracts by pointing to larger ideals than our ability to protect our own and take what's 'rightly' ours. We are called to lives of integrity, because by Jesus' blood we are "free enough not to spend all of our energy making an impression" (*cue chills, courtesy of Fr. Walter*). Lauren really addressed this concept of making an impression well in yesterday's reflection too.

When we let the Holy Spirit move in us, when we are no longer getting in the way of God, people are uncontrollably attracted to Jesus. Pray and ask God where you need to step aside in your life. The Holy Spirit wants to MOVE, and often we're the ones keeping it from happening. As another spiritual mentor of mine used to say, "Let the Holy Spirit do the heavy lifting", and stop throwing your back out because you're too stubborn to ask for His help.

Praised be Jesus Christ, stronger than the the strong man.

Frassati NY