C Cycle – 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time 19
Heb. 12: 1-4
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Our faith is founded on Jesus Christ; the great sign of God’s immense love for us. Jesus, an example of how far God will go for us to be in an intimate relationship with us. Keep your eyes on Jesus. There was a Christian song published far too many years ago with a refrain that echoed that same thing. It went, “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in that wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Yes, keep your eyes upon Jesus.
Jesus was not interested in having people worship Him for He was fixed with His eyes on God the Father, doing His will and following His plan for our salvation. “Come to me all you who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mat.11:28). “No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn. 14:6). “I am the door, anyone who enters through me will be saved” (jn.10:9). Do you need to hear any more saying of Jesus to understand salvation is only gained by the grace of God and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
The readings today give us a glimpse of exactly why we avoid, yes avoid embracing Jesus as Lord and savior and then begin to live the life of a disciple. There is a cost to discipleship that is avoided when we live on the periphery of our faith by showing up or by doing good works while avoiding dying to self.
If we have learned nothing at all about what God desires of us just read the passages of scriptures where Jesus takes the Pharisees to task. They were dependent on how well they followed the law and the rituals precisely and demanded others follow their lead. They had the formula to please or appease God. Jesus told them plainly their hearts were far from God and it was their belief in following the dictates of the law that kept them from “fixing their eyes on Jesus.”
Jesus calls out their hypocrisy when He said the “kingdom of God will be taken away from those who do not bear fruit – referring to the Pharisees (Mt. 21:43-45). He points their duplicity again when He said the Pharisees would be “severely punished for parading around, taking seats of honor and praying for others to see (Mt. 12:38-39). Do we examine ourselves against these sayings by Jesus; we so easily overlook our own faults while we can easily point out how others are doing those things the Pharisees did. Do we make a pretense of prayer as Jesus said the Pharisees did (Mt. 23:14)?
How many more saying of Jesus do we need to hear before we comprehend how easy it is to fall into a sense of righteousness because of what we do to feel good about our relationship with God instead of becoming righteous by acknowledging we can do nothing to earn God’s grace but we can feel the love and mercy of God by embracing Jesus Christ. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and the things of earth will change for us.
Jeremiah paid the price of listening to God and it cost him dearly. Paul paid the price of listening to Jesus and it cost him dearly. Our journey into the heart of God is going to be filled with uncertainty and at times will be very uncomfortable. This is exactly why we are more apt to follow the example of the Pharisees because faith by their standard is predictable and measured by how well we adhere to the standards set by laws and rituals.
Why do you think Jesus challenged the disciples to “feed the multitudes themselves?” Why do you think he challenged them to specifically state “who did they say He was” instead of spouting out what others were saying about Him? Why do you think Jesus challenged Peter to walk on water? God is constantly challenging us to get out of our comfort zone and discover the kingdom of God on earth is full of wonder, awe and a knowing we are loved and forgiven because of God’s love. Not because we are good but because God is good.
It is far to easy to hear these readings today and quickly forget about them because they have no relevance in our lives today. We do not want division in our families. The story of Jeremiah is just that a story and Paul is too hard to understand for he seems to ramble on. Yes, it is far too easy to ignore these and miss out the same challenge of discipleship Jesus called everyone who hears his voice to respond to.
Do you hear his voice? Are your eyes fixed on Jesus or are your eyes blinded by the same things that blinded the Pharisees from responding to Jesus?