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Father Muench Says...

Making the Gospels new to us

Nov. 23, 2022

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

The First Sunday of Advent begins a New Liturgical Year for us, Catholics. This means that our Gospel readings start all over again as we follow the story of Jesus. These stories we have heard before many times. As followers of Jesus, we are truly grateful for the gift of these Gospel stories that help us to know Jesus, our Lord and Savior.
Today, I would like to share with you a danger for some, those who react to the Gospels as just stories they have heard before. Some tell me they are tired of the same old stories, so they don’t really listen very carefully. Yes, for some, these stories can seem to be stale and lifeless.

We all must be certain that this doesn’t happen to us; this is our challenge. So, I think we must find a way to make these Gospel stories new to us, as if this is the first time we have heard them. We must capture the wonder of the Gospel of Christ. So, how can we experience the power of these Gospel stories so that they charm, surprise, shock, challenge, inspire?

I have a suggestion for you: I want you to remember that these Gospel stories are about us – you and me. These are our stories. We must find ourselves as we listen to the Gospel readings. Though these stories about Jesus are from so long ago, we are always a part of the story. As we find ourselves, we learn so much about ourselves.

Today, let me share with you a few examples of what I mean. During Advent, we will again read the many stories about St. John the Baptist. Our task is to find ourselves in that crowd listening to John’s preaching, to again experience baptism and to dedicate ourselves as followers of the Lord Jesus.

We know the Christmas stories by heart. Now we must find ourselves at that amazing moment of time, when the shepherds, the magi, and each one of us discover the joy and happiness of being there in Bethlehem at the birth of our Lord and Savior. This a time for our personal transformation. We become a new person in the Lord.

During the year, we will read the parables of Jesus often. Jesus told these parables long ago, yet Jesus meant these parables for us in our time. Consider the parable of the Prodigal Son. I know only too well that I have often been that Prodigal Son. I have had my days when I walked away from my God and Father. Yet my God and Father has always welcomed me back as I came to him in remorse seeking his forgiveness and love. Jesus tells us that God will come running down the road to receive me back like the Father in the parable. When I find myself, I will recognize God the Father’ love when I come seeking his forgiveness.

Then there is the parable of the Lost Sheep. Again I know that there are times when I am the Lost Sheep. Jesus teaches me in this story that each time I stray – and there are too many times – that the Lord, like a Good Shepherd always comes searching for me,ready to put me up on his shoulders and take me home with him.

There are so many other examples of our place in the Gospels. We must be there when Jesus taught the people, when Jesus healed the sick and the troubled. We must walk with the Lord through his sufferings. We must climb Calvary again with the Lord. We must stand at his cross. We must find our place at the Lord’s empty tomb.

When we listen to the Gospels in this way,we will discover the joy and excitement of these Gospel stories. The Gospel is truly the handbook of every Christian.

A quote from Mark Twain: “Others are bothered by the part of the Bible they can’t understand. I’m bothered by the part I can understand.”

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