The season called Lent is much more than a somber focus on the death of Jesus. This is a time to probe your faith, to remember the Jesus “who was tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). This is a time of serious self-examination as we understand Jesus' love for us is experienced in the challenges of our everyday world.
Please don't misunderstand me. The Christmas story is not a childhood fantasy, a concocted mixture of a little prince who grows up in poverty, is rescued from obscurity to become a handsome king and lives happily ever after. Childhood doesn't last forever and happiness will not be found in any fantasy of power or wealth.
We have just gone through a grueling election, now followed by shock, despair, joy and questions. What next? Will this change produce positive solutions for rank and file people, world tensions and the future? What about all those campaign promises and threats?
In the magnificence of Salisbury Cathedral of England I discovered a quiet little side chapel that contains the martyrs’ candle. It is a place where you can meditate on the lives of all those who have been killed because of their faith in Jesus Christ. At the altar there is a large candle, but instead of a glass cylinder shielding it there is a spiral of barbed wire to which are attached various symbols of violence, warfare and suffering.
As a young child my anticipation intensified as the time approached to go to my grandparents in Chicago for Christmas. Grandmother's unusual nativity scene included a lot more than most. It included sheep, cows, chickens, ducks, kittens, and puppies alongside the familiar camels and donkey. I would lay on my stomach and rearrange the figures that surrounded baby Jesus. That was my introduction to the magic called Christmas.
Interpreters of this section of Jesus’ teachings often divide it into The Two Ways (13-14); The Two Trees, sometimes called Two Kinds of Religious Leaders (15-23); and The Two Houses (24-27). Overall, some name the whole section The Great Invitation, since these verses invite persons to accept one or more pathways to life.
The way we treat others should reflect how we are treated by God. Tolerance is a word that gets tossed around by both Christians and non-Christians, even though both sides may have different definitions for tolerance.