The First Year of the Immediate Preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, the Year of Jesus

Author: Deacon John Taylor

The first year of the immediate preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, the year of Jesus

Jesus came for many reasons, but one of the main ones was to teach us how to live, how the Father wants us to relate to Him and how we are to relate to each other. Scripture often shows people addressing Jesus as "Rabbi", which means teacher. He used what was a normal method of teaching in ancient times and it's still effective today. He told stories with a moral. We call them parables. I think most people recognize that our Lord probably didn't have specific people in mind when He spoke of a farmer sowing seed, of a father welcoming back a son who had been a prodigal. The reason for the story was to make a point about how we are to act if we're to be children of God. I highly recommend you read and ponder all of them, but for lack of space, let's look at a few that speak to me personally.

The first that comes to mind is the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10) who came to the temple to pray. The Pharisee spoke up to God, to give thanks that he wasn't like the rest of humanity, that he was good and holy and he listed some of the good things he had done. Now please recognize that he had actually done what was right, he had been careful not to disobey God's laws and yet there was a problem there. He thought he did it himself, and thought God should be grateful. He was quite proud of himself! The tax collector, who was an agent of pagan Rome, taking money from his people for them (and getting his own cut), was in the eyes of the Jews, a traitor to God's people and thus had rejected Him. Frankly, he was borderline at best, and yet his outcry showed he recognized his sinfulness and could only beg for mercy. Simply put, he humbled himself before God and that made him acceptable to God, while the pride of the Pharisee caused him to be rejected. The lesson is God loves a humble person who recognizes the reality of the who God is and who we are.

The story we call "The good Samaritan" (Luke 10:30) could have been called "who is my neighbor". It shows a person in need, he had been mugged and left naked and beaten by the side of the road. We know the story. A priest and Levite didn't want to get involved and ignored him. Now these were good religious people and they should have stopped, instead it was a Samaritan who had mercy and cared for the man. That's quite a lesson to ponder. Jesus shows a person who was essentially a heretic, doing what God wants, while the "good people" didn't. It kind of makes you wonder how God looks at some of the people we often think of as out on the fringe, and how we devout people measure up in His eyes. It's a bit uncomfortable to think about it.

Our age really needs to think about the parable about the rich man who had a good harvest and thought, "wow, I've got it made, my mutual funds have done great, my 401k is awesome, now I can retire to my condominium and sit back and just enjoy life." God says to him, "You fool! This very night you life shall be required of you." Opps! The lesson is that first of all we'd best be concerned to store up treasure with God. The rest can be awfully temporary and it needs to be looked at from the standpoint of eternity. Take time to consider what will be important when you come before God.

Personally I like the gospel of Luke, I can relate to the way he writes. So often there's an emphasis on the mercy of God, on the goodness of God and I wonder sometimes if he had to deal with pompous people because of some of the parables. Please find one of the gospels that particularly talks to you and read it, either by yourself, or with a discussion group in your parish. Pick out a parable and mull it over, let God lead you to insights that apply to you. There's so much there, you'll never come to the end of it so take your time. It took our group four months to read Luke and now we've started reading Acts, which is sort of "Luke, part two." Ask Jesus to teach you the way you're meant to live, look at the way you've lived in the past and move on with Him. It's an exciting time ahead, after all it's God's world and He's in control of what's to come. All He asks is that we walk with Him. It's a lot less lonely and scary that way.

January 31, 1997

The eighth in a series of articles on the Jubilee Year 2000 for the parish bulletin

Deacon John Taylor, St. Mary of the Mission Parish, Opelika, Alabama

(c) copyright 1997, John E. Taylor

Note: Anyone is welcome to reprint this article as long as it is not for profit.