· Vatican City ·

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time: 3 July

Undomesticated Christian Discipleship

 Undomesticated Christian Discipleship  ING-026
01 July 2022

Only promoters of wild guesses claim to know Jesus’ interior journey hidden in the narratives of his itinerant teaching behavior, but the Gospels do impress that Jesus is sui generis, eternally one of his kind.

What was he thinking when in the synagogue at Nazareth he shook the dust from a long-tamed prophecy from Isaiah, and proclaimed it was all about him (Lk 4, 16-20)? Family in audience hid faces in their hands. Jesus was burning down their houses and reputations in zeal for his true Father’s work.

“As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ Jesus answered, ‘Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.’ And to another Jesus said, ‘Follow me.’ But he replied, ‘Let me go first and bury my father.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God’” (Lk 9, 57-60).

Jesus commissioned seventy-two for a scouting mission (Lk 10:1). In which of the villages on their way to Jerusalem would his personal visitation bear fruit? The seventy-two were not to preach new doctrine as much as to break up fallow ground for a living experience of their Lord’s prophetically powerful presence. They were, if you will, Jesus’ special ops: go in, work miracles if you must, and move on. “I am sending you out like lambs among wolves” (Lk 10, 3).

This commission remains de rigueur for Jesus’ disciples among us. And we Christians are still wiping from our cities “the dust of their feet” (Lk 10, 11). True Christian converts go into exile from the easy answers of “wisdom” received mindlessly from their families and tribes to follow Jesus who still shakes up non-performing expectations. True Christianity is a foreign country whose residents are willing aliens for Christ crucified. Jesus’ message is eternally undomesticated.

“We are sometimes told that the unique attractiveness of the central figure of Christianity as presented in the Synoptic Gospels was a primary factor in the success of Christianity. I believe this idea to be a product of nineteenth-century idealism and humanitarianism. In early Christian literature those aspects of the Gospel picture which are now most prominent in homiletic writing are not stressed. All the emphasis is on the superhuman qualities of Jesus, as foreshadowed by prophecy and shown in miracle and Resurrection and teaching, and not on his winning humanity. He is a savior rather than a pattern, and the Christian way of life is something made possible by Christ the Lord through the community rather than something arising from the imitation of Jesus. The central idea is that of divinity brought into humanity to complete the plan of salvation, not that of perfect humanity manifested as an inspiration; it is Deus de deo rather than Ecce homo. The personal attractiveness of Jesus had done much to gather the first disciples, though even then the impression of power was probably more important than the impression of love: thereafter the only human qualities which proved effective were those of individual Christian teachers and disciples” (A. D. Nock, Conversion, 1933).

by Jonathan Montaldo