[__01__] In many every day matters, we seek to be productive and profitable, avoiding large numbers. Some of us might avoid large numbers by not doing mathematics .... MEANWHILE .... some of us avoid large numbers by avoiding crowds.
· We travel more happily and efficiently outside rush hour.
· We live more happily – and peacefully – if we can avoid panic and chaos that might originate in crowd. Financial advisers tell us to avoid following the herd or crowd.
[__02__] In this section of the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 9, and on other occasions, Jesus separates himself from the crowd.
This separation is manifested/demonstrated in …
[__02(a)__] TOTAL ATTENDANCE – That is, this encounter occurs when …
“Jesus was praying in solitude and his disciples were with him.” (Luke 9:18)
Our Savior had gone away from and separated the disciples from the crowd.
[__02(b)__] This separation is manifested/demonstrated in this Gospel in 2-part question …
The question, part 1 -- Jesus had asked the disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” (Luke 9:18)
We hear the analytical and data-driven answers of the disciples, based on the current Nielsen ratings, based on Jesus’ reputation and identity.
The disciples have asked around, learning that Jesus is known by his association to others – to Elijah, John the Baptist, one of the prophets.
The question, part 2 -- is not based on analysis or data, but rather is personal question . “Who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)
Jesus separates himself from the crowed.
And, sometimes we are invited to do the same.
[__03__] In matters of morality and ethics, a classmate or friend may invite us to do something we recognize as dishonest.
To do the right thing might mean a separation, a distance from the crowd, or a challenge to the friend from whom we have been invited down the wrong path.
This is not easy.
[__04__] In more public settings or even in legal situations, we may encounter this.
We find ourselves, in the past year, as a Catholic community praying for religious freedom.
For example - the “crowd” and our country have accepted and signed a new health-care legislation, the Affordable Care Act.
Also, we recognize that that many people will be helped by access to regular examinations, to prescriptions, to hospitals.
At the same time, we as Catholics have reservations about a path that seems to include the greatest number of the choices, the greatest number of permissions …without sufficient regard for religious freedom.
Having freedom means exercising our values, our conscience… not simply doing what is permitted.
Also, we believe that our medical care requires, always, the freedom of the individual to choose – regarding --- payment --- insurance --- treatments.
The Affordable Care Act, in its implementation by the current Administration - includes items – as therapies – that we believe do not protect the sanctity of life at all stages.
In this regard, some separation from the crowd is Good News, for our religious faith and civil freedom.
[__05__] In our own quieter moments of prayer, we also ask for the Lord’s guidance.
For example, we can sit before Jesus, present in the tabernacle, in church, asking his guidance during a crisis or sorrow.
We may separate ourselves from the crowd for a while to do so. We can also ask his guidance during a time of joy.
Or, we might remind a family member for whom “faith” or “church” might seem a distant reality about this. Such a person might not have the continuity of religious practice in their lives. Such a person could be reminded to come to church, to pray before the tabernacle, to ask God – in solitude –for the word or words today.
Jesus speaks to us in our solitude away from the crowd. God speaks to us each day.
[__06__] This conversation of prayer does not only happen at times of sorrow or crisis.
For example, you might say to yourself…or I might say to myself …. “given my gifts, talents, how shall I take up my cross each day?”
This could also be a prayer this summer, after graduation, or as we approach graduation from high school or college. How shall each of us give back?
[__07__] For now, Jesus is separated, away from the crowd.
Yet, it is also true that he and his disciples will return to the crowd as we also will. He will return to Jerusalem, to the big city.
This return is part of the prediction of his passion and death.
And, we will also return to our equivalent of “Jerusalem,” the big city, to the tasks and activities of our lives.
We will return to our lives, to our tasks.
[__08__] It is Good News also to be back in the crowd. For we are called to seek God’s will and presence everywhere. And, thus in making choices – and seeking the good – we are reminded of the question directed individually to each of us from our Savior –
“who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20) [__fin__]