Sharing Not Only the Gospel, But Ourselves

Today’s second Mass reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians describes Paul’s behavior toward the Thessalonians. It is behavior that stands in sharp contrast to the behavior of the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus criticizes in today’s Gospel from St. Matthew.

The scribes and Pharisees “tip up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulder, but they will not lift a finger to move them.” They take places of honor everywhere they go, clearly viewing themselves as separate and above everyone around them. There is no sense of any relationship between them and the people to whom they preach.

In contrast, Paul describes his behavior as like that of a nursing mother caring for her children, citing his determination “to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well, so dearly beloved had you become to us.” Instead of the burden placed on the scribes and Pharisees, Paul describes “working night and day in order not to burden any of you.”

We can contrast two ways of preaching the Gospel. One is to preach words, words that tell others what to do, without any thought of those to whom we speak or their needs. The other is to “share not only the Gospel, but ourselves,” seeing those to whom we preach – by our words and deeds – as our dearly beloved.

I think it is pretty clear which Jesus prefers.


4 thoughts on “Sharing Not Only the Gospel, But Ourselves

  1. Sharing Ourselves

    Has Jesus offered a burden (or blessing) to all who preach? Whose words are heard and embraced before one begins to share in voice or deed? How one responds to the swirling whispers of the Holy Spirit determines whether “heavy burdens” are laid upon or a path forward is described for a journey together.

    Each new today offers an opportunity “to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well,…”

    I believe Susan is correct. A message shared or a call to action requested should be accompanied by His request, “Come,” offered with an extended hand.

    I have reflected many times on…

    “…Many of my fondest memories are of people I have had the pleasure to encounter and meet. Whether just a smile, a nod of acknowledgement, a pleasant hello, a brief encounter or a lasting relationship, everyone adds something to our lives and some will add more than others.

    Throughout life, I believe it has been sharing that has benefited me the most and not necessarily sharing any gift or talent I may possess. My greatest blessings have come from sharing a moment with another person. Everything we say to another, do for another or accomplish on behalf of another is initiated by our willingness to share a moment in time. When our Spirit allows another person to feel comfortable in our presence, so many wonderful experiences are possible – silence can be enjoyed, listening can be rewarded, words can be appreciated, a message can be heard, tasks can be accomplished, relationships can be reinforced or mended, events can be defining, love can be made, the possibilities are endless. It starts with sharing a moment, sharing a moment together; nothing has value unless it is shared.”

    Life is a gift Jesus shares, as His last breath became our first.

  2. Good Afternoon Susan,

    Mark’s article in the Strib two Saturdays ago has guided me to your blog – a refreshing and insightful place to land.

    And it is insight I seek this afternoon. In your words, “There is no sense of any relationship between them and the people to whom they preach.”

    In this mornings Strib article, “For Catholics, A Revised Mass”, are relationships ( including grace, blessings, etc…) with “the people” returning to embrace only a select many?

    “Some changes are more controversial. The line that said Jesus died on the cross ‘for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven’ will change to ‘for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.'”

    Many years ago, it took great courage for this 9-year old to stand up in sister Eileen’s class and state emphatically that God would not exclude my non-Catholic father and friends from His love or from heaven. Your speaking on Nov. 8 during an inter-faith discussion indicates the progress achieved in embracing God’s message. How far of a step backwards are we being required to take?

  3. Hi Christine,
    The 9-year old was correct then and remains correct.
    I didn’t see the Strib article – I confess that after four years here, we still get the NYT delivered daily, not the Strib.
    Although I think the word change is capable of being misread, my understanding is that it is not intended as a change in meaning. That is, Jesus’ act is for all, not just some.
    The best way to reconcile is that our salvation requires some action on our part – we need to accept the invitation Jesus’ offers.
    Hope that helps.

  4. Thank You Susan,

    Inclusion offered to all is a comfort – especially when one believes life is a gift. Embracing the invitation He offers and increasingly responding with “some action on our part” guides us towards another gift, our salvation. The joy – knowledge we are never alone on our journey.

    The 9-year old may have grown in faith, though her heart still aches when anyone is or experiences exclusion. God’s infinite love is intended for all, my frequent tears often a reminder many remain who are not experiencing His embrace – I’ll assume more action is required on our part.

    May your week be filled with Blessings…

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