This week I find myself wondering…How do I respond to “the new” and “the different”?
“After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God:
‘This is the time of fulfillment.
The kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” – MK 1:14-15
John has been arrested and now Jesus shows up on the scene. What would my attitude be in this situation? If I had been a follower of John the Baptist, how would I have received and responded to “the new guy”?
I suspect I would have previously heard John saying that there was one to come after him, the one for whom he was preparing the way, but would I have recognized Jesus as the one about whom John was speaking?
As I put myself in this scene, I see and hear this guy, who not only looks very different, but also speaks and acts very differently than John. Would I have recognized his message as being the same message that John was speaking? Or, would I have been distracted by the fact that this new guy looked, and spoke, and acted in a manner so different from John?
Would I have given Jesus a chance?
As I look beyond this passage, I wonder, how do I receive and respond to “the new guy,” to the new and the different in my everyday life? More specifically, I think about my parish and the transition through which we are going.
The facts…We are now part of a collaborative; three parishes grouped together. We now have a single pastor responsible for all three churches. Altogether we have the pastor and two other priests who have accepted assignment to our collaborative. While for parishioners, the location remains the same, all three priests are new to the towns involved. On top of that, all three parishes, had previously had their own pastor. Each of whom had been in place for a good number of years. Long enough for everyone to be comfortable with each other.
So now, like John the Baptist’s followers, we are all in a new and different situation. All being asked to let go of the familiar and be open to the new and the different. All being asked to embrace change.
There may be new and different faces and schedules, but am I able to see and to stay connected to the fact that the message, the Good News…Eucharist…the desire to build community and to walk as God’s people, is the same? And, am I able to give the new and the different a chance to be new and different and, perhaps just as wonderful, maybe even better than the old?