Friday, February 2, 2018

Undercover Savior

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.
But after his brothers had gone to the festival, then he also went, not publicly but as it were in secret. The Jews were looking for him at the festival and saying, “Where is he?” And there was considerable complaining about him among the crowds. While some were saying, “He is a good man,” others were saying, “No, he is deceiving the crowd.” Yet no one would speak openly about him for fear of the Jews. John 7:1-13

It can be hard to be a religious leader and have a normal life. When I was a parish priest, people were surprised to see me doing the grocery shopping or going to the doctor. Some folks didn't think we should frequent certain restaurants. To really get away or have a night out we had to go far away from the local community. And now, as a bishop, suspicion can be aroused if I go to church and just sit in the pew. It makes some people uncomfortable and especially some priests. I try to let people know that I am planning to attend their church and that I just want to worship as a "normal" person might.

Jesus was exhausted from the challenges and threats of the religious leaders. They wanted to kill him. His brothers were no kinder to him and baited him about going to the big religious festival. They wanted to see him show off and revel in his fame. They were brothers were teasing him, goading him into lashing out or showing off. Typical family behavior. Jesus wanted to be fed by the religious practice and few would let him. So he went undercover. God invites us to remember to care for those who lead us by giving them space and time to be fed and renewed. And God invites us leaders to take the time we need to be fed and renewed.

Today I ask God to help me know when I need renewal and feeding so that I might be strengthened for the ministry. May we all care for one another and ourselves so that we might, in turn, care for all who come our way seeking to be fed and healed.

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