Jesus Identifies with Us
One of the things that amazes me about Jesus as we are told in the Scripture, is the degree to which He identifies with us. In Sunday’s Gospel lesson (from Matthew, click here to read it), Jesus prepares a group to go out preaching and tells them, “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.”
Jesus actually carries this theme onward and it is especially evident in the parable of the sheep and the goats, 15 chapters later. (Click here to read it.)
I have thought about this a lot over the years, and I think there is even more to Jesus’ identification with us than just the idea that He is not embarrassed by us. I think what He is really claiming is that in faith we become part of the divine community. A community that is not just about living in geographical proximity, but about genuine connections that have real and eternal implications.
This is not a community of shared value, or political connections, or warm feelings. This is a community that connects us one to another — existentially, if you will. A community of which it can truly be said that burdens are shared, joys are multiplied, what harms one harms all and what raises one up raises all up.
As a society, we have become terribly fractured and, to a large extent, have lost any real sense of community. We move, usually multiple times, change jobs, divorce and remarry, etc. We divide up based on politics, gay rights, gun rights, wearing or not wearing masks, race, etc. All these things mean that it is a rare and special treat when we remain close to the same group of people over a lifetime. We try to replace that experience of community with things like social media, and other communal experiences, but at best we only get a hint of community and at worst we actually become even more separated.
Jesus declares Himself to be in community with us. Let that sink in. Ask Him to begin to show you what that means. Then, recall that this puts us in community with the whole Christian community! Obviously, we can’t just decide to feel in community with all Christians throughout time and space, but we can work on being in community with our neighbor, with the person in the next pew, with the one God puts before us.
Start there, as a way to both give thanks for and live out that community that Jesus makes with us. And see where He takes you!
This column appeared in the June 28, 2020 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.