1 Chapter four : Jesus - Model of Jesus : Model of Morality I. The Person of Jesus : The Starting Point of Morality The starting point of Morality for Jesus is not abstract or theoretical thinking but rather, specific and basic questions concerning my actions and their impact of the rest of the world, my brothers and sisters. It also implies my awareness of how others may be hurting in the world and what I can or should do to alleviate such pain and suffering. The Morality of Jesus is Morality in action, rather than principles of Morality . For the Christian who takes following Jesus seriously there is no such thing as static Morality ! Morality is always about doing and changing for the better. Look to the Sermon on the Mount to see the active nature of Morality in the eyes of Jesus . A. The Moral Character of Jesus The best way to know anyone s moral character, and this includes Jesus , is to look at the actions of his/her life.
2 In the life of Jesus we repeatedly see him acting with compassion and courage, and always in a way that is inclusive to all people, even the least of those present. When Jesus acts the light of God s face is seen in all of its beauty. Jesus is the human face of God. (Look carefully at the quotation on page 66 by Glen Stassen as a way of seeing what really matters for Jesus . II. The Moral Teachings of Jesus : Love of God, Love of Neighbor The passion and death of Jesus help us to realize that for Him Morality is always a question of how do I respond in love. The response of Jesus in love, no matter what was done to him as witnessed in his passion and death, is the Model for all of us. Thus, realizing what God has done for us, through the love of Christ, we make the starting point for all moral decisions the reality that God has unconditionally loved us first. We are now called to do the same for all of our brothers and sisters.)
3 (Be sure to familiarize yourself with the two Scripture passages on page 67, , I John 4:10 -11, and Mt. 22: 34-40, as well as the Guiding Principles for a Christian Moral Life. ) A. The Last Judgment - Finding Christ in People It is easy for us to forget that Jesus repeatedly reminded his followers that He had come for those who were sick, or sinners, and not the righteous. Remember, when one is overly righteous (thinking I am always right! ) it is almost impossible to be open to anyone, including Jesus . Thus, Jesus cannot even help those who in their righteous arrogance do not recognize their need for him. The story of the last judgment makes it absolutely clear who we are to reach out to in love - all people and especially those we consider unworthy or outcasts. THERE IS NO MORE ROOM FOR EXCUSES - NOW WE MUST ACT! III. The Beatitudes: The Christian Measure of True Happiness The Beatitudes, often seen as the Christian Ten Commandments do not give us a list of rules or ways we must act, but rather, they describe a way of being, a way of life that we should embrace and live in the name of Jesus .
4 Chapter four : Jesus - Model of It has been said that the true Christian should pray the prayer: O Lord, comfort those who are afflicted, and afflict those who are comforted. This is the prayer of the Beatitude Saint. This should also be our prayer so we can live in the spirit of Jesus . Review the Eight Beatitudes at the bottom of page 70 and ask yourself how you embrace these attitudes and in your own life. Remember, the true Christian is not trying to escape reality by flying off to God in the sky. The true Christian immerses him/herself into the thick of life and responds to all of life in the Spirit of the Beatitudes!! Go back to page 71 and review the Beatitude Examination of Conscience - not as a guilt trip about what you do not do, but as a call to live your Christian life more intensely. A. The Beatitudes as Descriptions of True Joy When we speak of the Beatitudes as a description of true joy we are not referring to the type of elation or happiness one feels when something goes right, when one passes a test one expected to do poorly on, or when one finally graduates from high school!
5 No, true joy runs deep and sustains us even in the worst of times. True joy has nothing to do with being a millionaire (or a billionaire as one may need to be in today s financial world), not with good looks, not with anything material - but rather with a sense of who one is, who God is and how together we move through, and respond to life. Look at Activity G on page 72 and give it some reflection. We will talk about this phenomenon in class. IV. Come and Follow Me A. Foot washing as a Model of Service In John s Gospel there is not Last Supper, as we know it in the Synoptic Gospels. The Words of Institution, are not spoken as the disciples gather with Jesus around the Passover supper. The final meal is really a setting for Jesus to deliver his last testament and discourse to his disciples. As a result, the ultimate act of self-giving, in John s version of the Last Supper, is not the expression of Jesus giving himself in the bread and the wine, but the act of humility he offers to his disciples as he serves them by washing their feet.
6 This is why service is not something extra for the Christian - rather it is at the heart of what it means to truly follow Christ! B. Placing God First in Our Lives The message is quite simple, but rarely believed - if we put God first in our life and live our lives serving in His name, the anxiety we often feel, and the stress that too often governs our life, will be greatly reduced. There are many expressions by believers to capture this idea; here are a few which you should familiarize yourself with (that does not mean memorize all of them, but how about two of your favorite, even if you don t like any of them!! We should so work as if we were to be saved by our works; and so rely on Jesus Christ, as if we did no works. - Francis Asbury Live with men as if God saw you, and talk to God as if men were listening. - Athenodorus Chapter four : Jesus - Model of We should pray as if everything depended on God and act as if everything depended on ourselves.)
7 St. Augustine Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow. - Benjamin Franklin Do God s will as if it were thy will, and he will accomplish thy will as if it were his own. - Rabbi Gamaliel Use human means as if there were no divine ones, and divine means as if there were no human ones. - Baltasar Gracian We must pray as it all depends on Divine Action, but labor as if all depended on our own effort. - St. Ignatius Live with men as if God saw you; converse with God as if men heard you. - Seneca Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended upon man. - Cardinal Francis J. Spellman C. The Hard Sayings of Jesus Some of the hard sayings of Jesus are given on page 74 of your text. These are the passages many people would either like to forget or skip when they reflect on what it means to follow Christ. The real question one must ask oneself is, Am I willing to follow Christ in all that He asks of me - even the difficult sayings?
8 Christianity and moral behavior is not something we do when we think it makes sense or we feel it is the right thing to do. Our actions are to be guided by the person of Jesus and what he calls us to do in love - not matter how difficult it may seem. Whenever anyone begins to say, Oh right, love my enemies, that s a great idea, but this is the real world, that person has essentially said that Christianity and the words of Jesus make no sense and are not a part of that person s view of reality. In essence, when one says this one relegates Christianity and Jesus Christ to total irrelevance. Anyone who wants to be a genuine Christian better expect to live in a constant state of cognitive dissonance. It one does not have this tension, then one is probably watering down the message of Jesus . D. Jesus Vision of God s Reign Perhaps the most difficult aspect of believing the message of Jesus , or that God actually is concerned about our world, is that the vision of the Kingdom of God seems so absent in so many parts of our world, , Darfur / the starving people in the world, North Korea, / the corruption in our own government / the hatred in our own streets, , racism, etc.
9 / and the list goes on and on. So what is one to believe about the vision of Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Chapter four : Jesus - Model of Theologians have wrestled with this question for centuries and have come to believe that the Kingdom of God is best understood in two ways, The Here, and The Not Yet. This is sometimes referred to as realized eschatology, and eschatology. Eschatology comes from the Greek meaning the study of the end times, or what it will be like when all of humanity and our universe reach the end. For the Christian, we hold that much of God s love expressed in the Kingdom of God, is in some ways present in our world today (look at all of the loving actions and selfless acts that do take place in our world, , Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffet, Richard Branson, and many others who may not be as rich, but equally generous.). This is the portion of the Kingdom of God that eschatologists refer to as the ALREADY.
10 On the other hand, we know that much of what Jesus wanted for the world, , peace for all, equality for all, dignity for all, etc., is still long in coming. This represents what eschatologist refer to as the NOT YET. Where does that leave you and me? We are the bearers of the Word of God, Jesus the Savior, and we are to proclaim to the world that, Yes, God s Kingdom is at hand, and in the same breath we are to call and challenge all with the words, We are the ones who have been called to continue and finish the building of the Kingdom of God. In this manner of living our lives we guarantee that the Kingdom of God is always coming closer to its full expression. This is the call and challenge of all Christians. This is why the moral life as described by Jesus is real, and why we must live moral lives proclaiming Him as our Lord - regardless the personal cost!! E. Making the Jesus Story Our Story If we are to make the story of Jesus ours, we must realize that we cannot do it alone.