The Gospel [Mark 8:27-35] provides a dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. He asks them who others say he is. They reply that some say that he is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the prophets. Then he asks the challenging question, “Who do YOU say that I am?” Peter replies, “You are the Christ.”
Clearly, all of us are asked to declare who we think Jesus is. And, for those who believe we have been “born again”, we reply — You are the Christ, you are the Savior, you are the One and Only — You are the Good Shepherd who is always with us.
But, what happens when my reply, “You are the Christ” and your reply “You are the Christ” does not seem to mean the same thing?
Surely there are parents and grandparents — old Aunts and Uncles — who say that Jesus expects/commands us to worship each and every weekend —- but, there are children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews — who DO NOT believe that Jesus — or true faith — expects the same thing!!
“My Jesus” values justice and compassion more than worship —- maybe “your Jesus” does not believe the same thing.
Certainly, “my” Jesus is not asking the same thing as the Jesus of Kim Davis of Kentucky. My Jesus would tell Ms. Davis to take the beam out of her eye before pointing at the splinter in the eye of those seeking a marriage license for their same-gender marriage. [Please, let us use same-gender and not same-sex — sex is such an explosive word.]
What happens when “your Jesus” says we need to spend millions of dollars to “restore” a church, when “my Jesus” says, well, maybe there is need for some carpentry work and some painting work, and some air-conditioning work —– but millions upon millions?? — no, not needed.
Right now, there is a lot of appeal for religious liberty and religious freedom.
I am certain that everyone reading this blog is appalled by what ISIS does in the name of religion/God. Unbelievable be-headings, destruction of historical sites, inhumane submission of women —– cannot we see what happens when “my God” is better or “more right” than your God?
I see abortion as horrendous and try to assist people so that they will choose otherwise. But, I do not judge those who choose an abortion. Nor, will I commit suicide outside an abortion clinic to prevent someone else from entering the clinic. If I were a Clerk of Court, I would issue a marriage license — it is the law of the land.
What happens when a Muslin worker at the DMV decides s/he does not want to issue a driver’s license to a woman because he/she thinks women should not drive? What if a Clerk of Court believed that NO ONE should divorce and remarry —- how could Kim Davis get married four times?
I see Pope Francis’ efforts to make annulments more easily attainable as the way Jesus would want the Catholic Church to move forward. I am sure there are others who feel just as strongly that Jesus would not want this. My Jesus v. their Jesus.
So. where do we go from here?
1. Each of us needs to declare who Jesus is!
I/you need to declare that my Jesus/my God is the guiding power of my life. My faith in Jesus is what keeps me sane and who is the person who guides me in the choices in my life.
2. My faith in Jesus guides everything I do.
Who Jesus is today, is the guiding person/principle for my life and the way I live.
3. Other people might believe differently than me.
As I want other people to respect my belief, I will respect the belief of others.
4. We live in a pluralistic society.
My beliefs will differ from others.
5. As I do not want others to impose their beliefs on me, I will not try to impose my beliefs on others.
it is ok for me to advocate, to teach, to preach, to educate — but, I have no power to force another to believe the same way I believe.
6. If I choose to work for a CIVIL, PUBLIC AGENCY SUCH AS THE DMV OR CLERK OF COURT, OR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, then there are laws I need to uphold — or do not work there.
I cannot impose my Catholic beliefs upon those in the public charter school system. If the principles of the charter school system impinge upon my Catholic beliefs, then I need to no longer work for the Charter School system. A Muslim flight attendant who does not believe in serving alcohol, should not expect accommodations from the airline. Serving alcohol is part of the job.
We resist anyone imposing their religious views on us. We do not like Bishops who think they have DIVINE INSIGHT telling us what we must think, do, or say. Why then do we think we can impose our thought or beliefs on others.
When asked which was the greatest commandment of all — Jesus replied, “Love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul — and your neighbor as yourself.” The lived kindness, compassion, and love I show to others is what is Jesus expects of me — according to my belief.
Did you see Pope Francis on ABC – TV in his “town hall sessions” with Americans in Chicago, Los Angeles, and McCallen, TX? That’s my Jesus speaking through him.