Sunday, January 17, 2010

What is religion?

Today's Gospel is the "Wedding Feast at Cana".
It is revealing that Jesus chose a wedding party for the launch of His public ministry (John 2:1-11). The news of what he did probably spread like wildfire, alerting everyone in the surrounding area to His kindness and His remarkable gift to the bride and groom. Kindness seems to be the message that Jesus wanted to precede Him, to disarm people so that they would not fear Him. Everything about Jesus spoke of simplicity, being born in a stable, living an unknown existence, showing nothing out of the ordinary except when some need called forth His extraordinary power to heal or to comfort.

Jesus cut through all the nonsense concocted through the centuries and touches the very core of what religion really is: our relationship with God. The person who is pleasing to God is focused on God and sensitive to all the pain and hurt that surrounds them. The accuracy in belief and disciplining human weakness are not important, but what is important is to love God and to care for others in need. These were teachings that were critical to Jesus. This was the Good News.
As concerned as Jesus was about spreading His Good News, He is not compulsive or driven like so many people with a mission. He lived His life, enjoying each day, making new friends, and maintaining warm relationships with His old friends. This, too, could be considered part of His Good News. He taught by His example how people could live with joy and serenity, and not allow themselves to be so driven that they lose their peace of mind and sense of balance. Through it all, they can enjoy an intimate relationship with God, which is built into the essence of being fully human.
Jesus showed little concern for the religious doctrines, customs, and rituals of the religious leaders. He did share His identity, and His relationships with the Father and the Holy Spirit, but this sharing of His inner life was the expression of His love. The doctrine of Jesus was in the relationships He was sharing (Matthew 15:29-38). He did not teach doctrines to be memorized; His doctrine was displayed in the life that He lead and the way in which He shared with others. He shared His unique understanding of God, and the relationship that God’s children should have with one another. Deepening of our intimacy with God and caring for one another was the religion of Jesus.
As we go through our daily lives, we should not use religion to beat each other with, but instead it should be a voice of love. Remember that religion is about relationship. It is about our relationship with the loving God that Jesus revealed to us. It is also about our relationship to one another. True religion is to love as Jesus loves, with arms open to embrace the world. Religion should be the language of love, the language of community, the language of acceptance, the language of compassion, and the language of forgiveness. We must all do our part to make this a reality.

Blessings and Peace to you all,


"Be still and know that I am God"(Psalm 46:10)

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