Monday, March 15, 2010
Lent, Day 23: Let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you.
Jesus left his family and his work as a carpenter in Nazareth and travelled to the wilderness of Judea to be baptized by John.
I wonder if another aspect of John's preaching in the wilderness is that it made it so that coming to see and listen to him was a decision in itself. One notices how everyone from the crowds to the religious authorities had to make the trek to the wilderness to hear John; only those who wanted to hear (regardless of their motives) heard and only those who wanted to be baptized (regardless of their motives?) were baptized.
John's message of repentance is a call to decision. I wonder what Jesus thought about as he made the trip away from Nazareth to the Judean wilderness. Did he consider the building projects he left unfinished (or did he finish everything he set out to do as a carpenter)? Did he contemplate how this decision changed his relationship with his mother and his family? How he'd no longer be there with them but they, if they would see him, would have to come to him since "the son of man can have no place to lay his head"? Was he thinking of what he would do afterward, the healings, the exorcisms, the returning of children to their parents from death? Was he drawing up plans for his disciples and how he would teach them? Or did he see, already, on the far horizon, the hill with three crosses? Did he know that immediately after his baptism he would be whisked away into the wilderness himself?
I think Jesus at least knew that his life was going to change, that he was going to do what he had been sent to do. He knew he was fulfilling his God-given purpose.
John's submitting himself to God's purpose facilitated others finding their purpose in life, even and especially our Lord. Like deep calls to deep, so lives of purpose resonate with other such lives. This is the importance of my church community, where I allow others to fulfill their purpose by serving me and where I live out my own calling with the encouragement and instruction of their examples. It is also the importance of my being faithful to God in what I do as a husband, father, teacher, scholar, colleague, etc. My decision to give God all of me influences others more and for the better than my refusals to submit to him ever could.