The 26th Tuesday in Ordinary Time
(Zechariah 8: 20-23, Luke 9:51-56)
“Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zech. 8:23). This verse reminded me of Pope Francis’s notion of evangelization by attraction, not coercion. Since the dawn of time, God has manifested his mercy and compassion towards us. Because we have been the objects of God’s mercy and loving compassion, we can show mercy and compassion to others. We have only to recall Jesus’s words, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (Jn. 13: 35). We are called to have an intimate relationship with the living Christ, head, and body. The Church attracts people by how its members live, not by what they say. If we strive to live peaceably with all people, especially with those with whom we disagree, people will desire to walk with us because they see that God is with us (CF. Zech. 8:23).
G. K. Chesterton wrote: “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult and left untried” (What’s Wrong with the World). The great theological divide stems from our felt need to argue and debate the use of terms. Words are cheap, creating a meaningless void. I was reminded of a few lines written by William Shakespeare.
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more: it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” (Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5)
The Christian vocation is a lived experience, springing from a life-changing encounter with the Living Word. When Nathanael asked if anything good could come from Nazareth, Philip simply invited him to come and see (CF, Jn. 1:46). I find Philip’s response quite interesting. He does not bluster with meaningless sound and fury. He simply invites Nathanael to join him on the journey to Jesus and learn for himself. I guess that Nathaniel could make the words of the prophet Zechariah his own. “Let me go with you, for I have heard that God is with you” (CF. Zech. 8:23).
What makes Christianity so challenging is that it does not give us a package of ready-made answers. Rather, it invites us to become engaged in a life-transforming relationship. Because we are invited to make the journey without a map and GPS coordinates we have to walk by faith. Recall the answer the first disciples got when they asked Jesus where he was staying. “Come and see” (Jn. 1:39). Saint John tells us that they abandoned their previous plans, accepted his challenge, and spent the rest of the day with him. That journey made all the difference. The disciples’ response is similar to that of Jesus’s ancestor, Ruth to her mother-in-law Naomi. “Wherever you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God” (Ruth 1:16) . They looked for an answer and encountered the mystery of God’s infinite mercy, and that encounter made all the difference. When we respond to the invitation of love, then Christianity will have been tried and not found wanting. People will want to walk arm-in-arm with us as we journey to our Father’s house.