Memorial of Saint Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr
I have a bad habit, well several bad habits, but one in particular came to mind when I read today’s Gospel. Remarkably, I can take the simplest of things and over complicate them into muddled messes. I’m sure others can attest to this. Maybe they have experienced it in the midst of a planning session when I have proposed a convoluted solution and upon noticing confused looks around me, timidly offer, “Maybe I’m overthinking all of this.” We can all do this with the Lord as well.
The disciples did it. We see that in today’s Gospel passage. Scripture tells us, “he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead… questioning what rising from the dead meant.” Jesus meant what he said but Peter, James, and John did not take him at face value. Granted, the idea is nearly unbelievable, but then again so is the transfiguration they just witnessed. And, yes, hindsight is 20/20, so this reference is clear as day to us but my point is not that we can’t rationalize our over complications. Merely, that maybe we need to simply let Jesus be Jesus.
I think we are better disciples when we do this. Just imagine, for instance, if the disciples had taken Jesus’ claim about rising from the dead at face value. Would they have handled the crucifixion better? I don’t know, and I’m not proposing a kind of crass literalism or anti-intellectual view of faith. Rather, a faith that says we can take God seriously. This is the faith we see recalled throughout our first reading from Hebrews. A faith that trusts.
For us, we have ample opportunity to not over complicate Jesus. We can take him seriously when he stretches us by calling us to forgive our enemies or to leave our gift before we have reconciled with our brother or sister.
As we approach Lent, we can resist the urge to pursue a plethora of devotions that will suffer from a lack of depth. Don’t over complicate Lent. Jesus didn’t take a checklist into the desert.
Additionally, in our prayer life we can avoid reading Jesus the ‘Honey do list’ we made for him, and instead ask Him to speak into our lives. Maybe our simple Lenten devotion can help train us to open our ears.
Finally, we can find community. The most effective way for me to not over complicate something is to have others around me. I have even asked people to evaluate what I’m doing based on the question, “Am I over complicating this?”
Maybe I’m overthinking this, but I think the Father was pretty clear about my relationship with Jesus when he said, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him."
- Spencer Hargadon
- Spencer Hargadon