Deacon’s Beacon: What is Necessary to Follow Jesus
It may seem odd to talk about Christmas at this time of year – temperatures in the 90’s, high humidity and trips to the beach. But I’m not talking about the weather, I talking about the spirit of Christmas. When we were children we looked forward to our gifts. As adults, we learn that the true spirit of Christmas is sharing with others. And the most important “others” are those who need our assistance.
The Spirit of Christmas
Whenever I think about the Spirit of Christmas, I think of Charles Dickens’ book – “A Christmas Carol”. The protagonist in the story is Ebenezer Scrooge. Now, Scrooge was not a bad person – he was just indifferent to others. He believed that he worked hard for what he had – and others should do the same – if they didn’t, that was their problem. Scrooge hates Christmas not just because it’s a disruption from business and making money, but also because it reminds him of how unhappy and lonely he is. As the story progresses he’s visited by four spirits who show him that “life” is about more than just him.
Fortunately, we don’t need to be visited by four “spirits”. We get the message of the true meaning of life through the teachings of Jesus Christ in our gospel readings.
Our July gospel readings guide us, step by step, on how to follow the teachings of Jesus to increase our spiritual sharing with others. The readings started with Jesus preaching in the synagogue in His hometown. The people there did not believe Him, referring to Him as the carpenter’s son. The people didn’t like the message of redemption that Jesus was preaching. We believe Jesus is truly God and truly human. The listeners could not get past the “human” that they knew – they failed to answer God’s call.
On the following Sunday (July 11) Jesus, undeterred by this rejection, sends His apostles out, two by two, to nearby villages to preach God’s message and to heal the sick and suffering. They are to carry only a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money. They are to trust in God and not have any distractions. They’re equipped only with the word of God.
In last Sunday’s gospel (July 18), the apostles return, gather together with Jesus and report on all they had done and taught. They are overjoyed with their success; but they are also exhausted and Jesus takes them to a deserted place to rest. When they arrive at their “quiet place”, Jesus sees that the crowd has followed Him. There is no rest for Jesus and the apostles – the people are hungry for the word of God and Jesus teaches them “many things”.
Then in today’s gospel (July 25), we hear that not only are the people hungry for the word of God, they are just plain hungry. But how do you feed a crowd of thousands in the middle of nowhere?
The gospels from the previous three Sundays have been from Mark’s gospel; they tell details of Jesus’ ministry. Today we hear the miracle of Jesus feeding the multitude from John’s gospel – the crowds have multiplied as they receive the word of God from Jesus and then from His disciples. Jesus is the Bread of Life.
This article has focused on what is necessary to follow Jesus. Next week we will look at the many ministries.
Our Lady of the Wayside offers for us to help others in need.