Happy tenth day of Christmas, Y’all!
On the tenth day of Christmas, Yahweh gives to us: reason (the verb, not the noun).
I hear so many people saying these days “I just can’t watch the news anymore” that I wonder how the stations get enough ratings to keep broadcasting. I doubt that so many of us have stopped watching because we don’t want to know what’s happening; I think we’ve stopped watching because we do want to be informed as intelligent adults with the God-given ability to think and reason. We are so overloaded with the personal opinions of the anchors and hosts that we can’t find the facts and actual information to think for ourselves and form our own opinions.
In the Gospel reading for today, we hear the story of that time when Mary and Joseph lost Jesus in the festival crowds and searching frantically found him sitting with the temple teachers, “listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers” (see the second chapter of the Gospel according to Luke, in which you will also hear Jesus giving a typical teenage answer to his parents when they question what he’s doing).
As Luke continues the story, he says that Jesus “matured in wisdom and years and in favor with God and people.” We talked on Day 4 about Jesus being our wise teacher. The purpose of following a wise teacher is to learn to live in wisdom as our teacher.
The best definition of wisdom I’ve found is from Peter Enns: “a lifelong process of maturing us into disciples who wander well along the unscripted path of faith, in-tuned to the presence of God along the way.”1
Following Jesus on this journey of life and love isn’t about checking our brains at the door. It isn’t even following “blindly” without thought or opinion as some have decided “faith” means. Jesus’ whole ministry was about getting people to think and reason. Jesus asked questions like “what do you have?” and “what have you seen?” and “who do you say that I am?” not to trip us up or zap us if we are wrong but to encourage us to think and reason.
Jesus doesn’t give us a simplistic checklist of right and wrong answers to memorize and regurgitate but the means to live with the awareness of God in whatever the circumstances in which we find ourselves. With the call to “follow me,” Jesus teaches us how to live using our God-given ability to reason out the answer to the question, “How would Jesus love?2”
Our belief and faith isn’t a static thing because we aren’t static beings. We believe in the God who moves, who comes to us and walks with us and asks us to follow, to go, to feed, to teach, to love. Together we follow Jesus with our eyes, hearts, and minds wide open, living into the fullness of our created humanness, wandering well this journey of love.
So, on this tenth day of Christmas, turn off the so-called news and ponder the Good News of God coming to be with us and showing us how to be who we are created to be – God’s beloved, intelligent, thinking, reasoning, and loving children.
2Hat-tip to my friend and colleague Padre Ricardo Lopez who preaches this well.