06 April 2006

Spare Change

Recently, someone shared with us a sign from a restaurant. Sitting over a bowl near the exit was a card that read: "If change bothers you, please leave it here." The Jews in today's Gospel reading could have taken up quite a generous collection. Jesus upset their comfortable vision of life and death when he hinted at eternal life. In fact, Jesus challenged them so much that they intended to stone him.

The experience of having one's vision upset is good -- if we trust that there is another "vision" waiting for us on the other side of this "change." Perhaps one of the most profound moments of spiritual growth is the realization that a certain image of God, which we cherish, is inadequate -- inadequate not because God is not "solid" like a rock or "loving" like a father, but because God is so much bigger than our limited images can suggest.

In today's Gospel, the faithful Jews gathered at the Temple were unwilling to let go of their image of Abraham and the afterlife. Jesus shattered this image by suggesting a more profound vision of eternity. In their fear of "change" they turned to violence and sought to stone Jesus. Let us pray for the grace to respond gently to such change by allowing our images of God to be shattered. For greater and more profound images await us.

"The Incarnation is so preeminent and profound a mystery that it was never anticipated -- nor could it be -- by the ancient pagans and philosophers. Even those skilled in the law of Moses were unable to comprehend it. . . . In this mortal life we believe it because faith teaches it to us."
St. Francis de Sales

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