The theology course is beginning with the transition from the Jesus Movement to the Church. The reading has been very thought provoking. While most of the text has been about how the authors described Jesus, Paul's use of Old Testament language, and the revelation about how little we know of the early Church celebrated in the homes, one section about Jesus' key teachings has held my attention. While many of His teachings were part of the contemporary debate in Jewish tradition, five of His lessons showed a clear change in theology.
1. Approach God as a loving father, to be in intimate (family) relationship with God.
2. Love not only God but also their neighbors (which was defined as everybody) and their enemies.
3. Be concerned for the marginal, those left behind.
4. Follow a radical ethics, find the value that goes to the root of the problem.
5. Always forgive, always.
I've been returning to these five teachings from Jesus and asking myself how well I'd be assessed by Christ. Thank God that lesson five would give me a second chance, but I do have so much to learn and practice. It seems an overwhelming and impossible teaching when I try to put it all into action and expect success. Thankfully, St. Francis de Sales had some sage advice from a letter in 1603 in my breviary on his feast on January 24th.
"Know that patience is the one virtue which gives greatest assurance of our reaching perfection, and, while we must have patience with others, we must also have it with ourselves. Those who aspire to the pure love of God need to be more patient with themselves than with others. We have to endure our own imperfections in order to attain perfection...In truth, we have to admit that we are weak creatures who scarcely do anything well; but God, who is infinitely kind, is satisfied with our small achievements and is very pleased with the preparation of our heart...I don't mean that we shouldn't head in the direction of perfection, but that we mustn't try to get there in a day...In order to journey steadily, we must apply ourselves to doing well the stretch of the road immediately before us."
I think he said it quite well. Oh, the springtime picture of Bishop Marty Chapel? Well, the course readings have been about Church and I'm hopeful that spring will return to the Monastery soon. I also believe that those five teachings from Christ are best practiced where there is someone to help you up and dust you off if (when) you fail in the attempt. I'm sure you (my Sisters) would be there with a helping hand, smile, and sage advice to support me along the way.