A few months ago, I was needing to let my brain quiet down for a bit and started looking for a brainless show to watch on TV. I recalled hearing about the series called “The Chosen,” so I searched for it. I watched the first episode, then the second. I am now in love with this series. For those that do not know what the series is, it is about the life of Jesus. As a child, I grew up watching the TV mini-series “Jesus of Nazareth,” which was the quintessential telling of the life of Jesus at the time. My brothers and I watched it every time it was on even though we knew how it would go. We even recorded it on our VHS so we could watch it whenever we wanted. (I know, I am dating myself terribly there and sounding like a total nerd.) When I began teaching, I took those VHS recordings to school and shared them with my students during Holy Week. I loved that I could quote Scripture while watching the Gospel come to life. “The Chosen” captures me in an entirely different way. The gospels scripted “Jesus of Nazareth.” It isn’t the same with “The Chosen” even though the gospel is there. It is more of the inspiration and guide than it is the script. I am finding myself falling in love with my faith all over again by watching it. The cast of characters that we all know have become so real, so human. I find myself laughing and crying while I watch. I am completely captivated by it all. What I am seeing is exactly how I imagined things to be when I take time to ponder the gospels. I am transported to a different place and find myself desperately wanting to be with Jesus. Is that weird? I am falling deeper in love with Jesus because of this show. My faith is being reinvigorated and restored. I highly recommend it.
I must tell you, the gospel readings for these last two months have been challenging to me. Words that started the month with “those who exalt themselves will be humbled.” A couple of weeks ago, the story of the prodigal son, and this week the story of poor Lazarus and the rich man. Most of the remarks from Jesus are directed to his disciples…that’s us. The words of Jesus around discipleship are both hard and easy at the same time.
Hard, because Jesus’ call to give up everything and follow him, means letting go of all the protections we have built up over the years. Protections which mask our shame, imagine our control, and falsify our security.
Easy, because of the realizations of the false, paper protections they are. What does God want from us? In short, he wants our response to the unconditional love he offers, and has been offering since he “knew us in the womb.” Why do we, including myself, find it so hard to believe God will provide?
Instead we struggle, we scheme, we try to make life work, and when it doesn’t, we run to God like injured little children run to their parent. I am sure God doesn’t mind how we come to him, but I also know the peace of really letting God provide, and knowing, even if sporadically, that his love lets us lead the best life possible. We could be distressed by the commands of Jesus by trying to be humble, to be compassionate, to be empathetic. The revelation in these attempts is the word “be”. If you wish to know what it takes to follow God, just remember who we are…his beloved, and stop trying so hard to “do” and instead…be-loved.