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There’s Hope for All of Us: Just Look at the Disciples

July 18, 2017 by  
Filed under Book Club, Sarah Reinhard

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There's Hope for All of Us: Just Look at the Disciples

The Lord (Week 5 of 23)

And the disciples? It must be admitted that during Jesus' lifetime not one of them suggests a great personality. Before Pentecost they are still all too human. It is depressing to see Jesus among them. Uncomprehending they degrade everything, are jealous of each other, take advantage of their position, and when the test comes, fail.

The Lord, Part 2: Chapter IV, Paragraph 10

Do you ever read about the disciples and feel hopeful?

I mean, look at them. I realize how I sound, and that I'm sitting on the other side of the story, here, knowing how things ended, but how often do you think Jesus just shook his head?

And yet, they were the ones Jesus chose.

He wanted them.

And that simple fact, the demonstration that if they are good enough for him, then so am I, is a source of smiling hope for me.

After asking us to consider these disciples (perhaps with a bit of a chuckle), Guardini points out the three groups who were really open to Jesus' message: quiet individuals, social outcasts, and heathens.

I've never been much of a quiet individual, and though I can't claim to have been a social outcast. But heathen? Yeah, I tried that. (Though I might not have called it that.)

“It was among the heathen that Jesus found open souls and fresh, ready hearts,” we read, and I can't help but nod.

Guardini continues, “Only too often, ancient religious tradition, long training, and hard and fast usage stamp the ground hard. The spirit no longer takes any imprint; the heart remains cool or undecided, and rarely does feeling become that passion which demands absolute earnestness.”

I'm often told that, as a convert, I'm a “far better Catholic” than those who have been raised in the faith.

To that, I adamantly disagree. For one thing, the people who most convinced me to become Catholic were those who were raised Catholic, including my husband, his mother, and a dear friend from college.

But the truth that people are trying to reach, I think, when they observe that converts are better Catholics can be teased out from what Guardini says here. His reference to the hard ground of the spirit makes me think of the springs where we have had pounding rains and the fields have gotten so hard the seedling corn or soybeans can't break through the hard crust.

Our heart and our spirit can have a hard crust, too. We can become impervious to the wonder and miracle of our faith, mired in the drudgery of ourselves. It becomes all about me and somehow, I lose all sight of the bigger picture, of the possibility of wonder and enchantment. Or perhaps it becomes all about something else,

In the midst of this, I find myself turning, once again, to the disciples. They were a motley crew, a rag-tag band of unlikely heroes. “Before Pentecost they are still all too human,” Guardini reminds us.

When is our Pentecost? Are we ready for it? Leaping toward it?

Let's embrace our faith, however difficult, challenging, or (gasp) boring it might be. Let's turn our minds to the adventure at hand, however unappealing it may be. Let's open ourselves to what God has in store for us.

Reading Assignment:

Part 2: Ch. V-VIII

Discussion Questions:

1. In Part 2, Chapter I, we read, “What breaks out in violence is already present in the evil word or intent, or rather, everything that follows is the result of that intent.” How can you decrease the violence in your life by adjusting your intent throughout the day?

2. Part 2, Chapter II, considers love. “Your love will become genuine only when you lower the barrier between yourself and the other.” What barriers do you face that keep you from truly loving the “other” in your life today?

3. “It is essential to remember that the truths of Holy Scripture should never be isolated,” from Part 2, Chapter III. Read one (or all!) of today's Mass readings (which, for our United States audience, can be found at the USCCB site). Dive more deeply into one of them by reading sections before and after. What bigger picture do you start to understand?

4. What idols do you face? In Part 2, Chapter IV, we read about how the temple and ritual had become idols for the Jews. There was nothing intrinsically bad about those things; in fact, they are usually considered good. What do you need to let go of, back away from, involve God in so that you aren't letting it get between you and your Savior?

Feel free to comment on anything from our assignment this past week!

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About Sarah Reinhard

Sarah Reinhard continues to delight ”and be challenged by” her vocations of Catholic wife and mother. She's online at SnoringScholar.com and is the author of a number of books for families.

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