Friday, May 25, 2007

Pope's Jesus of Nazareth - Peter's Confession

This quote, from Chapter Nine, takes up Peter’s Confession:

The great period of preaching in Galilee is at an end and we are at a decisive milestone: Jesus is setting out on the journey to the Cross and issuing a call to decision that now clearly distinguishes the group of disciples from the people who merely listen, without accompanying him on his way – a decision that clearly shapes the disciples into the beginning of Jesus’ new family, the future Church. It is characteristic of this community to be “on the way” with Jesus – what that way involves is about to be made clear. It is also characteristic that this community’s decision to accompany Jesus rests upon a realization – on a “knowledge” of Jesus that at the same time gives them a new insight into God, the one God in whom they believe as children of Israel…

… The disciples are drawn into his solitude, his communion with the Father that is reserved to him alone… They are privileged to see what the “people” do not see, and this seeing gives rise to a recognition that goes beyond the “opinion” of the people. This seeing is the wellspring of their faith, their confession; it provides the foundation of the Church. – p 290-291

Chapters could be written from a single page, even single paragraph of this book and this is no exception. A couple points for me: the word, decisive: decision used in the above passage. The origin comes from the word decide c.1380, from O.Fr. decider, from Latin decidere "to decide," lit. "to cut off," from de- "off" + cædere "to cut". Sense is of resolving difficulties "at a stroke." Like the word sacrifice, to decide brings us to a critical (or a more accurate word may be crucial) anthropological aspect of being human. We are called to decide, to leave behind one existence for another. It is interesting how today we find all sorts of justifications to put off making critical decisions, but Jesus continues to demand that we follow him, and his way always goes by way of the Cross.

There is also something here that makes me think of vocation - marriage - calling. At some point we arrive at a time where Jesus asks us for a decision that costs nothing more than our lives.

Like the ripple effect when a pebble is tossed into a lake, Jesus starts with a small core group of disciples sending them forth to make disciples of the whole world. And this discipleship is not grounded on opinion, but rather by witnesses.

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

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