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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
November 27, 1987     The Message
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November 27, 1987

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Faith ', y Supplement, The Message, Catholic Diocese of Evansville, November 27,1987 1 I I II Faith Todav , A supplemt to Cob'dk: newspope pubshed by NATIONAL CATHOLIC NEWS SERVEE 1312 Massachuse Ave. N.W., Waington, D.C. 20005. with gront assistance from The Cahohc Churx:h EXTENBION So,w 35 Eost Wce Dr.. Chicago, $1$irs 60601 All contents copyright t987 by NC News SeMce. 4! By Father Robert Kinast NC News Service J esus interrupt ..... people. He caught Simon and Andrew while they were working on their nets; he stopped by the table where Matthew was counting tax revenue. He spotted Zaccheus in a tree and invited himself to dinner; he prevented the Samaritan woman from completing her daily chore of drawing water. He put an end to a frenzied man's ranting in the cemetery; and he joined two disciples who felt depressed because their Lord had died. Most of the people Jesus inter- rupt'ed were ordinary folk going about their daily business and probably not looking forward to much more than a good meal and a little time with their families and friends. Sometimes, though, the people Jesus interrupted were rejected folk, pushed aside by their com- . munity and blade to feel inferior I because of their class, their race, their occupation, their sex, their reputation. Whether people were overlook- ed and accepted it, or were shunned and cut themselves off in return, Jesus interrupted them. Why? Because he saw that when people were separated from rela- tionships and experiences that af- firmed the best in them, they also might be separated from the kingdom of God. Jesus interrupted people to shake them out of the familiar ruts they had fallen into and were comfortable with -- patterns and ways of behavior they had come to accept as the best that they could do. Jesus didn't want people to set- tle for less than they could be. His motive always was clear: to help people participate in the life God was offering them right in the midst of their everyday experience. When Jesus did this, he never asked more than the people were capable of. He asked them to see themselves anew, as he saw them. When they did, exciting things began to happen. Simon left the sea and became a rock. Zaccheus stopped cheating and became a philanthropist. The woman ran from the well to become a messenger of God. And the frenzied man left the cemetery to rejoin his family. []FqT1 Part of the reason these changes occurred is that Jesus was honest in his relationships. He didn't dispense artificial pats on the back, simply telling people they were OK. Jesus knew Zaccheus defrauded others and waited for him to ad- mit it. Jesus knew the two disciples were depressed and ask- ed them to talk about it. He knew the woman at the well had five husbands. He could accuse Peter of doing Satan's work as readily as giving him the keys to the kingdom. Jesus wanted to really know people so that he could affirm them genuinely and they would know it was the real Peter, the real Zaccheus, the real Samaritan woman who was being addressed. E2 71 E2 The people Jesus touched grew in self-esteem. Their self-esteem in turn enabled them to hear what Jesus was proclaiming as good news. Why? The kingdom of God -- the of- fering of divine life by God always is at hand. But we have to recognize it; we have to know that we are the ones God wants to walk with, dine with, talk with, relax with, be with. Unless someone opens the way, we may never know it. That was true for Phyllis. She felt she was unable to please her parents and gradually assumed that she couldn't please anyone. Until she met Joe. He knew her as a person he enjoyed being with and, eventually, they were mar- ried. Joe helped Phyllis to grow in self-esteem. Gregory faced a different challenge. To win his peers' ac- ceptance, he tried to outdrink everybody and soon developed a real addiction. One day the semiretired janitor pulled Gregory aside and told him a story about his own youth. He had been a promising athlete. But to impress everyone he raced cars. One day he had a bad accident which left him with a deformed leg and ended his athletic career. The janitor did not tell Gregory why he shared that story, but his intervention made Gregory take a 'second look at himself. He admit- ted his dependency, began treat- ment and now is planning for college. For Phyllis and Gregory, a gift from someone else helped self- esteem to grow. It was a gift that interrupted their usual ways of seeing things. In the end they ff)und they were able to venture into a life that was waiting for them all along. (Father Kinast teaches at Washington Theological Union in Silver Spring, Md.) Take a second I at you Do you think self-esteem is risky for Christians, too closely allied to egotism perhaps? True enough, a bloated ego can be a problem in Christian life. But isn't genuine self- esteem something else again? At this time of year when so much time and effort are focused on the gifts peo- ple give, our writers turn to the gift of self-esteem and how people help each other find it.