For Lent I’ve been doing a self-study encouraged by Fr. John Matusiak of St. Joseph’s Orthodox Church, Chicago. He put me on his parish bulletin distribution list and the Bible studies come attached. I don’t know if it is something he designed himself, nonetheless it resides on the diocesan website here. They are quite simple in the scheme of things. As usual Lent has been a spiritual challenge for a variety of reasons so spending a few minutes working on each one has been profitable.
The first study sheet is “What Jesus says about Himself.” Most of us could whip off a fairly comprehensive list. Several things struck me as I went through the selected verses.
1) Matthew 13:11-17 says Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah – the one who speaks in parables “…so that I should heal them” (v15b). His words, His parables, for those who have the heart to hear them heal us. How many times have you read and hear the same teaching or scripture verse and not ‘gotten’ it? Me – too many times to count. Then comes the time when you mutter to yourself, “AHA!” after hearing it again. He is the healer.
2) John 6:30-58 Jesus says He is the Living Bread which comes from Heaven. He isn’t the manna given to the Israelites in the desert. Pondering this and other sections I came to the conclusion that Salvation is
i) the Eucharist and/or works and/or belief and faith;
ii) it is not one or the other but both/and;
iii) it is many things but is also One thing…Jesus Christ.
You can get lost in the maze of thought when you try to wrap your heart and mind around all of this. That is God! Not being lost but so huge we cannot comprehend Him. I love that.
3) John 6:37-38 says that anyone who comes to Jesus, He will always accept. I don’t always do that – accept people where they are in their life and with their struggles. I recall saying once, “I work so hard! It doesn’t seem fair that everyone is welcome even at the last minute.” I shocked myself! My God in Heaven, did I really just say that!? Uh, yup. Fast on the heels came the words, God forgive me – what a selfish thing to say. I’m no better than the Prodigal’s son who stayed home and worked for his father or the Pharisee.
Jesus says many things about Himself. He preaches the Gospel to the poor. Heals the brokenhearted. Liberates the captives and oppressed. Gives sight to the blind. Is a servant. We are to be like Him.
I’ve a long way to go.