Tuesday, May 13, 2014

One Voice

If someone asks you where Christianity started you might say Jerusalem, referring to the Pentecost event. You might say Nazareth or Bethlehem referring to Jesus early life. But I doubt many of us would say Antioch, today called Antakya in Turkey. But as the first reading reminds us, it was there that the word Christian was first used. Before that they were followers of Jesus or people of the way. It was in Antioch that Christianity made its next step in its evolution into the religion we practice today. It was in Antioch that it made the turn toward the Greek speaking world.

If being a Christian were merely an exercise in historical reenactment, trying to copy Jesus, the gospels would have been written in Aramaic or Hebrew to capture the exact words of Jesus as accurately as possible. Instead what we have in the gospels are Greek translations. The words of Jesus as recalled by the four evangelists and translated into the common language of the people at that time. And as history moved on we translated the Greek into Latin, and the other languages of the world.

Ours is not a religion of the "historical Jesus." We are the follower of the living Jesus. The one who rose from the dead, who with the Father sent the Holy Spirit. The gospels tell us very little of Jesus's life, and there are big chunks of time missing. Why? Because we are supposed to be building our relationship with Jesus in the here and now.

The gospel today uses the image of the sheep who can hear and recognize the voice of their shepherd. We may begin in the word, but we must all be still and listen, practice listening for and recognizing the voice of the Good Shepherd. In the midst of the cacophony that is modern life, it is not always easy to discern that one voice.

Take time today to listen. And if you hear nothing, listen harder.