Finding God on Gannon’s Campus

Even for Erie natives, the snow has worn out its welcome.  The continued bombardment of the wintery mess and lack of a vacation day in February have left most of us pleading for “old-man winter” to leave.

I don’t know about you, but when I think about wearing out a welcome, I get this uneasy feeling in my stomach.

That’s what the people of Jesus’ time thought about him.  There were many who just wanted him to leave town and not be seen anymore.

Why was that the case with Jesus?  Well, we can look at this a little closer and see if it will make sense.

We have all met someone who has challenged our security and comfort zone. The idea that Jesus was 12 years old and was teaching men twice or three times his age must have been unsettling with the Pharisees, scribes and Sadducees.

Jesus was revealing a vulnerability that spoke to their hearts, “You don’t know everything.”  Jesus went on in life teaching the ones who were the “teachers” of the time, exposing the holes in their ideas and giving them the answers to work with.

Maybe you have a younger sibling who is smarter than you or perhaps there is a student in your class who is more intelligent than you.  How do you treat them?  What is your response?

We don’t like it when we acquire a vast amount of knowledge and pay a lot of money for degrees and then a younger sibling or student comes along with an understanding of what we are talking about or teaching without formal instruction.

Can you hear the elders of Jesus’ time calling him a “snot-nosed punk” “crazed lunatic” or even a “know-it-all”?  It takes a lot of humility to be able to see that we don’t know it all, and even more to be patient with those as they grow.

No matter how many degrees we get, no matter how many years we live, and no matter how many times we read about a topic, we can only know so much information that is only applicable to that moment.

There is a common debate question as to the law of a “circle square” and how that is possible since we have no circle square.

We don’t have it that we know of, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Now we will hear of some academic reason as to why it isn’t possible. Yet, everything is impossible until it is discovered, then it is possible; but it always was, we just didn’t know it.

That’s what Jesus was teaching the elders and scholars of the time and they were so pompous about the law they followed that they were in no way able to see the truth in front of them.

Luke’s Gospel tells us of a time when Jesus used a parable about the tax collector and the Pharisee in the temple. The Pharisee stood in front of the altar and said, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people – robbers, evildoers and adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” While the humility of the tax collector led him to pray from a distance with his head lowered saying, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Jesus was making a point.  He was telling the Pharisees that because they have acquired this knowledge of the law, and acted as the law prescribed, it didn’t make them more righteous. Jesus gave the answer, “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

A great lesson for us today is when our little sibling, younger friend, colleague or student knows more than us, shut up and listen – we just might learn something about ourselves and learn to make the world a better place.  Humility will allow for humanity to grow leaps and bounds.

The way that Jesus was run from town to town is the way we run people out of our lives because we don’t like what they have to say, we don’t like something about them that differs from us and we don’t like the challenge to look inward.  Maybe it’s true, and if it’s not, what’s the harm in looking?

The snow may be teaching us a lesson about life, too. The time may come – I pray not – when we cannot go outside and walk. We will wish we could go outside and walk in the snow one more time.



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