Friday, May 14, 2010

A Good Example

Here's a good example of what I was talking about in the last post -- waiting until you really have something to say to be up and about the work of saying it.

The Christian scriptures tell the story of a young Yeshua ben Miriam going with his family to Jerusalem for Passover when he was around twelve or thirteen.  It must have been a tremendously stimulating experience, overwhelming even -- a family from the sticks getting a taste of the big city.

And we're told that things got a little chaotic as they were getting ready to leave and that, in fact, the family got separated in the caravan and didn't even realize it until all of a sudden Miriam and Yosef realize that their son isn't with them.  They rush back to the city and begin to frantically look for the boy, eventually finding him in the temple.  As the book of Luke puts it he was, "sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. [And] everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers."  [Luke 2:46-47]

Precocious kid, right?  Maybe you know somebody like that.  Maybe you were somebody like that.  And what are we told that Jesus did?  Did he go back and become President of his youth group?  Did he become the favorite speaker on Youth Sunday?  Did he go on a circuit of local congregations, and regional gatherings, the talented kid who everyone knew was going to grow up to be a rabbi?

Not as far as the tradition tells us.  According to Luke 2:52 he, "grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."  That's it.  No great accomplishments.  He lays low and grows up.

And then, some twenty years later, he hears about a wandering preacher named Yochanan who's baptising in the river Jordan and he goes to check him out.  And in that encounter the heavens open up and the voice of God identifies him as God's own beloved.  Yet even with such a clear mandate does he begin his ministry?  No.  Even then he heads off into the desert for forty days of discernment -- prayer and fasting and "wrestling with the devil."

In the last post I noted that Anthony de Mello councils the importance of resisting "the urge to be up and doing before you are freed from the compulsion to act; the urge to communicate to others what you yourself have not yet experienced."  It seems that Yeshua ben Miriam -- Jesus, son of Mary -- himself embodied this approach.

That's good enough for me.

In Gassho,

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