by Laurie Gudim
In the Education for Ministry (EfM) groups that I mentor it is the season when participants in Year Two are reading the Gospels. We read each one as a whole. We read it through from beginning to end, and then, with the guidance of an excellent textbook (Introducing the New Testament by Mark Allen Powell), we notice what is included in each, what is left out, what sources the authors may have drawn upon, and how each Gospel speaks to its own particular ancient audience in the distinctive style of the person or persons who wrote it.
What I am noticing this year is something common to all the stories. I am feeling the passion that shines through the pages. These writers were in love with Jesus of Nazareth. Their understanding of everything – the world, their community, the scriptures, God, the way to live a life – was transformed in the incandescent furnace of this love.
It’s amazing, if you think about it. These were people who did not know Jesus first hand. They had met him only in verbal accounts, only through others who knew people who had known him. And yet, like a buried priceless treasure, they found him, recognized him as their beloved, acknowledged him as the one for whom their souls had always yearned.
All of us who belong to Christ can find him in that way, I think. We hear the stories other people tell, and we are drawn in. They are, as Rumi would say, like fingers pointing at the moon. Eventually something wakes up inside us. We turn, and then we actually see the moon toward which all those people have been pointing. We meet the Christ and we fall in love. The real, living, incarnate God breaks through into that realm that is already his kingdom and takes possession. He takes our hearts.
In the small piece of Luke’s Gospel that forms today’s reading, Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” It is a good question for each of us to answer. Just like the authors of the Gospels, we have a story to tell. It is formed of anecdotes, suppositions, facts, creeds and imaginings. It is our finger pointing toward the moon. We can live in hope that those who yearn for Christ will follow where it points and see the living God and fall in love.
What am I saying? Through following where this finger points, we, ourselves, may be kindled anew into a luminous, passionate love.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Images: Icons by Laurie Gudim