Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A reflection for the fourth day of Christmas

Open the gifts for the fourth day of Christmas: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Calling birds, indeed! It's a story, told from four different perspectives, that is above all other stories. It's a story, a meta-narrative, in which we can find ourselves and through which we can live our own stories authentically.

BEYOND BIRTH NARRATIVES. What Christmas implies and promises, the Gospels write large by walking us through the life of Jesus with heart-opening lucidity. The Gospels document and detail the evidence that the hopes and fears of all the years were, indeed, met in Jesus Christ. The “birth narratives” in Matthew and Luke conspicuously hint at the broad, troubling, and grace-bearing impact Jesus would have. And John’s eloquent introduction sets the stage for a story in which the Word “came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. But to as many as received him, to those who believed on his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.”

DIVERSE DOCUMENTS, COMMON THREADS. The four Gospels make no attempt to reconcile differences in details or to paint a seamless, air-brushed picture of Jesus. Each is written from a different perspective for a different audience at a different time and from a different place. The fact that they are individually so raw and make no pretense at orchestrating events so as to present a united front adds to their authenticity. Though incredibly diverse, the common threads and penetrating message of the Gospels witnesses to something that has forever changed the world.

STILL BEING APPREHENDED. I grew up saturated with stories from the Gospels. It was a gift unappreciated and taken for granted. I didn’t awaken to the radical nature of the Gospel message and its claims upon my life and the community of faith until I was well into my twenties. I am still waking up to this gift, still being converted by the challenging invitation, still being apprehended by the call. I am still realizing this is, indeed, Good News for all humanity, for every person, even for me.

FINDING OURSELVES IN THE GOSPEL. The Gospels are Good News on their own terms, not mine. Only as I let go of my flimsy excuses, shallow attachments, grandiose notions, self-serving interpretations, and less than certain certitudes, does the Gospel find me and I find my home in the Gospel. Our own stories are significant when they find their place in the Story. Every person takes his or her place in the Gospels; we must to decide, however, how the Gospels tell our stories.

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