A Word for Our Confirmation Candidates
Have you ever listened to someone trying desperately to sell something? Whatever they have is perfect for you and it will help whatever it is that you need help with? This kind of sales approach can be so convincing that we get pulled into the moment and buy whatever it was they have. It's later on when we realize that we have been used and manipulated.
Dear Confirmation Candidates
How can you know that the person talking at you has your best interest in mind? It’s not always easy to see. The best indicator is by their actions. Is that person caring and compassionate? After all, actions speak louder than words. In Mark's Gospel (Mark 1: 21-28) he writes about when Jesus came to his hometown of Capernaum. It was there that he entered the synagogue and began to teach.The crowds were amazed. Why? He taught differently than the other teachers of his time taught. One word: Authority. But what was it about Jesus that was so convincing? What made him stand out above all the other teachers and why were people so drawn to him?
A New Way of Teaching
Jesus didn’t talk and refer to the past - he brought his message to the here and now. When Jesus stood up to teach he didn't teach like the other teachers of his day by saying, “Moses taught this” or “the exodus teaches us that….” or “the prophet Isaiah reminds us….” or “Rabbi so-and-so said….”….. No, when Jesus stood up in the synagogue, he said, "I say to you…." The other teachers told the people to do this or that before their sins would be forgiven. But Jesus said directly to people: Your sins are forgiven! The Rabbis encouraged people to believe in God. So did Jesus, but he also said, “believe also in me.” Jesus was something new. He was the authority.
Buddha encouraged his followers to walk the spiritual path that he learned.
Muslims believe in Mohammed. Mohammed was an ordinary man who claimed to have received a revelation from Allah. He wanted people to read and follow the Koran.
Confucius was a philosopher who suggested a balanced way of being in the world.
And then there is Jesus. People weren’t attracted to Jesus just because of his words – he didn’t make suggestions or encourage people to walk a certain way. He said:
I am the door; I am the vine; I am the gate; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the light of the world.
His teachings were something new, something astonishing. Jesus brought God to the present. He brought God to the people. God was and is present in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.
Talk the Talk - Walk the Walk
And the beautiful thing about Jesus is that he didn’t just talk about it - he backed up what he taught with action. Jesus didn’t just talk the talk – he walked it!
In the Gospel of Mark we read about a man in the synagogue who had an unclean spirit. Jesus talked to the spirits that lived inside this poor man.
But he doesn't stop there:
Jesus talks to the spirits that live inside each and every one of you. The good spirits as well as the ones that try to get a hold of you and encourage you to do the things you shouldn’t do.
Images of Jesus
Jesus recognizes the goodness in each and every one of you and he tries to free you from whatever blocks you from being the person you are meant to be and become. Jesus came into this world to give us power over what controls us. The German Benedictine monk, Amseln Grün, wrote a book containing 50 images of Jesus. He presents the many sides and faces of Jesus as pictures in the Bible. Jesus is the way, he is the light, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is the leader and the rebel. He is the caring healer and the humble outsider. Jesus is the glutton who ate with sinners in order to show them that they too are loved and accepted by God. Jesus is the resurrected! When you study his teachings, when you experience him and really meet him in the Eucharist – when you give him authority to help you in your decisions you can experience new life.