From Fr. Mike Shanahan, our Pastor
One of the things I enjoy doing is reading reflections about the Gospels from various Scripture scholars. John Shea is a master storyteller and always among the first I explore in trying to understand the importance of a scriptural message. I was inspired by his reflection on the nature of Jesus as the Teacher. Jesus would use any encounter or situation for the purpose of bringing a person to a “higher consciousness.” I might simply describe “higher consciousness” as a deeper way of thinking and understanding, a way that places us more in touch with the movements of God’s Spirit in the world. Here are some words taken directly from The Spiritual Wisdom of Gospels for Christian Preachers and Teachers by John Shea:
Jesus the Teacher is not a straightforward conveyer of information. He is an encounter with a higher consciousness that is bent on opening whomever he meets to the indwelling Spirit. Everything he says and does is geared to the spiritual transformation of disciples, crowds, religious authorities, and individual seekers.
Spiritual transformation is highest priority at all times, in all seasons. There may be an invitation to spiritual transformation as you struggle to meet the increasing challenges of parenting a family; or dealing with the intensity of emotions during a pandemic which leaves us isolated; or while looking at your amazing children who are trying to grow up in the midst of a pandemic, while you just lost your job. Jesus meets us wherever we are, in whatever circumstances. And his message is intended to lead to growth and depth in the spiritual life.
Spiritual transformation is at the very heart of Renew My Church. All the parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago are combining or closing and it can be very painful to witness such changes. Is it possible that the emotion of Renew My Church might lead us to spiritual transformation? After all, we came to the church in the first place that we may learn and grow in our awareness of the living Christ among us. Perhaps this whole Renew My Church process is intended to refine and accelerate our ongoing spiritual transformation. We have seen multiple issues that have led to Renew My Church. Some of them are: decline in the numbers of priests; loss of trust in institutions; dwindling numbers of faithful in attendance. Perhaps the Teacher has been present all the time. Perhaps we are being called to remember the wider, universal church in addition to our own local parish. Spiritual transformation is always necessary and never easy.
John the Baptist sought to remove all that hinders our hearing the words of Jesus the Teacher, that is, sin. Let us believe in God’s message of meaning, love, transformation, repentance. Let us find new life again through the spiritual transformation that is upon us. Let us remember our baptismal identity on this Second Sunday of Advent.
Please note that the Awakening Concert will take place on Feb. 12, 2021. This development and changes regarding the Awakening Concert have involved significant spiritual transformation. You will begin to see new information about this in the near future. For now, information can be found on HERE.
Thank you and God Bless.