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here are in Sacred way of viewing the world and enced sorrow and he wept, he
Scripture any number of all that is in it. The daily chore enjoyed table fellowship both
passages that could be of denying our very selves, the with friends and with society’s
invoked as a job description root encumbrance from which outcasts. He always found time
for those who wish to be fol- all others spring: that is the for prayer both alone and with
lowers of Jesus. One that seems really difficult task. It is also others. He was physically
particularly appropriate is in the pre-condition that sets us abused and finally put to death
the Gospel of Luke, 9: 2–3. In free to be effective healers and on the cross. Yes, and God
this passage, Jesus tells his heralds of God’s kingdom. In raised him to new life.
the words of Walter In all of this, from the
Kasper, “He is really most ordinary chores in the

Following
free who is free from home of Mary and Joseph to
himself and his inter- his most astounding miracle,
ests in order to be Jesus was God among us and
wholly disposable for for us. The entire life of Jesus

God’s Agenda God and others”


(Jesus the Christ, p.
158).
was suffused with God’s pres-
ence, not to change or replace
it, but to bring it all to perfec-
Only in denying In a culture that
tends to be danger-
tion. If one can speak of Jesus
as being possessed, then he
self can humans ously self-centered, was possessed by the need to
that spends millions make present God’s emerging
come to find their of dollars annually on kingdom. Jesus’ agenda was
greatest identity. things and practices
that will help “me” to
God’s agenda, to proclaim in
word and deed only what he
be a better “me,” the had heard and seen with the
Al O’Dell, Companion idea of denying one-
self, especially as an
Father. When Jesus shed his
Precious Blood on the cross, he
ongoing, lifelong proclaimed not only the
endeavor, can be unconditional and irrevocable
apostles three things: they are frightening or just plain fool- love of God for us, he also
to proclaim the Good News of ish. gave us an unmistakable sign
God’s arriving kingdom, they There is a legitimate ques- of the depths of his dedication
are to be healers, and they are tion here. What is to be left of and commitment to being the
to be unencumbered. Perhaps me if I embark on this lifelong presence of God among us and
by a priority of nature, unen- task of denying myself? What for us, regardless the cost.
cumbered comes first, then is it that I am really seeking to We never fully understand
healing (for words without be, if indeed, there is to be any who Jesus of Nazareth is. The
action are not credible and “I” left at all? For an approach terminology we use—nature,
convincing) and finally procla- to an answer, we need to look person, hypostatic union—sim-
mation of the Word. People do to Jesus. ply gives us one mutually
need to hear the Good News. Jesus was a first-century agreed upon way of speaking
More importantly, however, Jew, son of Mary and Joseph, about the mystery. The mys-
they need to see and experi- with his own unique personali- tery itself remains. It is in the
ence it in unencumbered, self- ty traits, growth experience depths of that mystery, howev-
less acts of healing. and personal history. He spent er, that we get some idea of
Later on in this same most of his life with Mary and what our life is to be.
chapter of Luke’s Gospel, verse Joseph, doing the ordinary The image of an echoing
23, Jesus reminds us that we things that a loving, maturing chamber comes to mind. An
are our biggest encumbrance, son does. During his life, Jesus echoing chamber is created for
not things we possess (modern was praised, misunderstood or listening. Having first listened,
day “staffs” and “tunics”), but not understood at all, even by it echoes back with its own
we ourselves, our attachment his closest friends. He grew individual overtones, depend-
to our own agenda, our own tired and rested, he experi- ing on its unique surface and
structure, exactly what it has depths of God’s love for each
heard. It makes present again of us. It is also a clear sign and
for all who would listen the symbol of the depths of dedi-
word spoken in it. Should the cation and commitment that
echoing chamber experience a we must have to being the
fit of independence, trying to human expression of God’s
add to or subtract from what it love in the world. In a continu-
has heard, it would distort its ous succession of individual
very nature. It would also dis- historical moments we are to
tort the message, indeed not echo what we have heard and
really hear it. seen with the Father. Our
We are to be, each in his or encumbrances tarnish the
her own unique and individual appearance, distort the echo of
way, echoing chambers giving God’s love in the world, and
God human presence in our slow the progress of his arriv-
world. Like Jesus, God’s agen- ing kingdom.
da, and absolutely nothing Once we have put our
else, is to be our agenda. We hands to the plow, however,
are to echo in our daily lives we do not turn back, trusting
what, in the “healing silence of only in the truth that with God
recollection” (the phrase is all things are possible. And in
Thomas Merton’s) we have the end, perhaps, we discover
heard and seen with the that it has not been a journey
Father, to give human presence of self denial at all, but rather a
in the world to the Father’s Spirit-guided and enabled
love and compassion, his affirmation of our truest self as
yearning for justice and peace. we come forth moment to
The Precious Blood of moment from the creating and
Jesus is an abiding reminder redeeming hand of God.
and symbol not only of the

Discussion Questions

1. Al O’Dell writes, “Like Jesus, God’s agenda, and absolutely


nothing else, is to be our agenda.” How are we to discern God’s
agenda for us?

2. The entire life of Jesus was suffused with God’s presence, and
those who were around him felt it profoundly. How do people
experience God’s presence when they are near us?

3. How does the Precious Blood call us to be a living sign of God’s


presence in the world?