Who are you when you come home? I can remember times when my boys were small, and they would love to come running to the door to greet me. Invariably they would want to be picked up and have my full and undivided attention because I had been out doing what Dad does when he was not downstairs in the Parish Office. They loved to wrap their arms around my neck and hold on for dear life - as if they had not seen me in a thousand years though it had only been a few hours at most. The Gospel for Sunday (Mark 9.30-37) got me to thinking about home. Jesus came home to Capernaum for the last time on his way to Jerusalem and the cross. Jesus came home and to the house where he lived through his ministry and life away from Nazareth. Who was he when he was home?
I ask this question because I often wonder as a priest, who people become when the walk out the doors of the Church and go home from worship – who do they become? I ask because I find it interesting that I can write blogs about life, peace, hope and people respond to that like gangbusters. On the other hand, when I write about things like following Jesus and the realities that we face in doing that, people don’t want to deal with that. People seem to only want the sweetness and light and not reality. Maybe it is reality they are trying to avoid. That’s why it is critical to understand that Mark’s Jesus is at a critical spot because they are going to Jerusalem and the time is short.
So, it makes it important when Jesus asks them the question, “What were you arguing about on the road?” they were ashamed, not because they had argued, but because of what they had argued about: who was the greatest amongst them. Wanting to be great is a good thing but if you are going to be great in Jesus’ eyes, you’re going to have to be a good servant for everyone. The Twelve were worried about who was going to get position and power, not about the people around them who were suffering. It occurs to me that things aren’t all that different in the Church from then until now. What do you do with a bunch of disciples who are self serving, self interested and self seeking? Jesus knew what to do! He called them into deeper service with him. “if you want to be great, then you must be least and servant of all. We must learn to not only seek to bring people into relationship with Jesus we need to be humble enough to stay with them and teach them what they need to know to be effective Christians too.
Every person you receive and befriend, regardless of who they are, is worthy of the service you can offer them. It is not about you, it is about God and them. Remember the baptismal promise to seek and to serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself? Every person, every life matters because you seek Jesus in them. Every life has significance where the Father is concerned because each of us is worth the life of the Son of God. Even if and even when they cannot give us the power, position and prestige we think that we deserve. Every person is entitled to the care and protection that we can offer through the grace and strength that God gives us.
Moreover, the service that we offer others then becomes thank offering for all that God the Father has given and all that we have received from him. We are sustained in our life and ministry because we are continuing to seek Christ both in the Church and in the world. The Father makes this happen because he is seeking to reconcile all of his creation with himself. As Stanley Hauerwas recently said, “The pastoral task of the Church, is the building up of the Church in holiness.”
This means that when we come home to God, and we are at his table, we are received as a desirable guest but that is not where we remain if we are in relationship with him. We do not, we cannot remain the same and remain with God forever. Our relationships with the Father and with one another transform because we know each other increasing measure. Being holy and righteous are about the relationships we hold not who we become. Such states therefore, are communal and relational much more than they are personal.
So when you come home who are you?