Sunday, May 21, 2006


Just been going through my emails, and I came across this from the Pope's catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday;

"The Gospels allow us to follow [Simon Peter's] spiritual itinerary step by step. The starting point was the call by Jesus, which came on a day like any other, while Peter was busy at his work as a fisherman." Jesus said to him "'let down your nets for a catch.' ... Simon the fisherman trusted this rabbi, who gave him no answers but called on him to have faith. ... Peter allowed himself to be involved in this great adventure. ... He was generous, he recognized his limits but believed in the One Who called him and followed his heart. He said yes and became a disciple of Jesus."

I've heard two sermons this weekend, both directed at children. Listening to one, I was bored out of my wits - it was based on imparting facts about the Mass. Listening to the other, I was challenged and uplifted - it restated what Jesus had done for us and asked us what we could do in return. I've been trying to work out why I had such a different reaction to the two sermons, and I think B16's catechesis explains it.

The first sermon does everything for me - tells me all the facts and explains them - but it doesn't let me make up my own mind. There is no other option than the one outlined and I have to follow it or I am wrong. I rebelled against that judgement by not listening to most of it and thinking about other things (like what the choir were singing next and playing my favourite Church game, 'Which Mass would you rather be at?').

The second sermon doesn't pretend to be telling me something new, it reminds me of what I already know and acknowledges that. It doesn't tell me what to do, it gives me ideas. It didn't even tell me that I had to do anything. It was all left up to me. I really tried to listen to it, dispite my head being full of other things. I felt better - for about five minutes, when I had to start thinking about what the choir were singing next(!).

I like working out answers for myself - that way I own them, they become part of me and my identity. Being given answers from on high annoys me - because they are not my answers, they are imposed and they don't belong to me. I feel cheated out of the experience I would have had, had I been left to work out my answer for myself.

This is what Jesus did - he never gave a straight answer. He told stories, and left people to find the meaning themselves. This is what I (mostly) like, because there is always something new to learn, some new meaning that I didn't spot before. In everything. Each story teaches what each of us need to learn at a particular time. All you need is faith (... and love... and patience).

Imagine how boring it would be if Jesus had given a straightforward, factual answer for everything and not left us to work it out for ourselves?

If Jesus trusted us enough to work things out, why can't we trust each other to do the same?

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