Our World is the Book | Season of Joy

Season of Joy

Today's Season of Joy reflection on John 21:20-25 is by Sr. Sharon Zayac, OP.

Sr. Sharon is a Dominican Sister of Springfield, IL. She has degrees in Secondary Education, Hospital Administration, and Earth Literacy. She is co-founder of Jubilee Farm, her congregation’s 164-acre eco-center, just west of Springfield, IL. She is a writer, speaker, retreat leader both in, and outside of the U.S.

Our World is the Book

from John 21:20-25

...It is this disciple who testifies to these things

and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.
There are also many other things that Jesus did,
but if these were to be described individually,
I do not think the whole world would contain the books
that would be written.

To read the full scripture passage, please visit: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/060422.cfm

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It is this last line of the Gospel I used for our reflection today:

“There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.”

It is too easy for us to fall into the trap and think that we only find the words and deeds of Jesus in scripture. And we will know how very easy it is for us to pick and choose his words to support a particular cause we might favor, and to blatantly ignore his words about a cause we do not.

If we look only to scripture to tell us about Jesus and the work he was missioned to do, then we relegate him only to a historical figure who lived and died two millennia ago. But that is not what our faith teaches us. Jesus is more than alive and well in this day, in this world, among all of us who witness to his love and compassion and integrity, whether we call ourselves Christian or not.

A careful, thoughtful, reading of the words and deeds of Jesus in scripture poignantly shows us his desire to stretch the minds and hearts of his followers, luring their faith into deeper meaning; their minds into broader understanding; their hearts into more open loving; their actions into taking on controversial issues.

We take for granted what we hear in the parables, the Beatitudes; his gathering children around him, his touching of those considered unclean - bleeding women, lepers, tax collectors - because these stories have become common to our ears.

But his words and actions certainly were not common to the people of his day. That's why they were written down. They astounded, they confounded, they angered, they inspired and even freed those who watched him.

Do they do the same for us anymore? Do they challenge us to speak words of truth and integrity to a world seemingly growing deaf to them? Do they give us the courage to act for justice on behalf of those whose voices are ignored or whose words are dismissed as irrelevant?

Jesus has never stopped teaching; stopped preaching the words of grace and healing and love; stopped committing acts of civil disobedience as when he chased out the money changers in the Temple and broke Sabbath laws to do the works of mercy.

His commitment to compassion and justice is as evident in our world today, as is all the misery and pain, because his mission continues in each of us, through each of us; even as he still works to stretch us into ever deeper levels of relationship with one another, with God, and with the whole of creation.

The world of Jesus' day did not know the immensity, diversity, beauty, and importance of rainforests, glaciers, Grand Canyons, Andes mountains, Amazon rivers, and all the many lives that inhabit them.

The many crises facing our world today were not part of the world Jesus and his disciples lived in. So we do not read in scripture about climate change and toxic pollution, and the rampant degradation and destruction of ecosystems that affect the whole of life on this planet.

But we know because our thinking, our understanding, our compassion is stretching to encompass them all. And we are beginning to grasp, thanks to science and to our faith, that when we speak of any one part of this interrelated world, we speak of the whole of it: its beauty, its inherent value, and its pain.

As Pope Francis tells us, "The cry of the Earth is one with a cry of the poor."

So, as each of us takes up whatever aspect of God's work our particular passion leads us to do, we know that we continue Jesus' work of healing and justice.

So, yes, the whole world would not be able to contain all the books written about Jesus because the world itself is the book, and it holds all that has ever been done and all that continues to be done in love, in mercy, and in justice.

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