How good are you at introductions?
If you have ever been to a gathering where you don’t know too many people, then you know how important a good introduction is. Some introductions are more effective than others. There were the predictable ones- at least here in St. Louis: This is John. He went to CBC high school, lives on the hill and works for Boeing. Those are always safe. But the good introductions are the ones that lead to further conversations. They gave the other enough information to continue a dialogue or to initiate a follow up question or questions. One of my favorite all time introductions was that of a mother introducing me to her son: Here is my son, the upside down man…” I already had about 10 follow up questions to that one…
“Who do people say the son of man is?” Jesus asks. What is the introduction that they use? To their credit, the disciples responded, not with the usual place of birth, occupation, education – but with images from their past: Moses; Elijah; John the Baptist. They are not bad introductions: -How is he like Moses, like Elijah, like John the Baptist. There are a few follow questions about these great figures of history. But in response, Jesus says– it’s not enough. I want a real introduction. “But you, who do you say I am? Who am I to you NOW?”
And Peter gets it right. From his Jewish background he says the most important words he ever could about Jesus. “You are CHRISTOS” – the messiah. That is, you are the one who is intimately involved with my hopes and dreams. You are the one whom I have longed for all my life long. You are my reason for believing… It’s a great introduction to Jesus, isn’t it? If you are introduced to someone as the reason for your hope, as a reason to get up in the morning, as the reason for all the choices you will face – I think I have more than enough things to continue to conversation with. More than enough to engage in a dialogue. The handshake is given. The conversation begins. And like all good introductions, the one who does it best no longer matters. What is important is the interaction that begins.
Isn’t that what we are about here at St. Justin Martyr? Making the good introduction to Jesus and then getting out of the way. It is what all the preparation that people do for this Sunday liturgy are about – making the introduction. So people practice their readings, they dress up as greeters, they work hard on the music or the homily or the moment when they will hand you the bread or the cup – so that we come to know Jesus in that introduction. All that we do is to aid the moment when, like Peter, in a moment of grace and blessing from God, Jesus is revealed to us, in the breaking of the bread, and the sharing of the cup.
Who do you say I am? We often hear that as a question addressed to the disciples. But it is the unspoken question that God asks of us in every moment of our day, every encounter with another human being. Who do you say Jesus is? We give answer to that with our actions long before we ever open our mouths. And if it is true that a large majority of how we communicate is non-verbal, then, what is the introduction that you give in your actions to others about Jesus? What do they know about this man because of You?
3 areas to work on re: our non-verbal introduction of Jesus.
1) Where do you spend your Saturday evenings or Sunday mornings? I get I am speaking to the choir – and I am glad that you are here today. But, when you are on vacation, out of town, traveling, had or have a busy weekend– what does your commitment to finding the time of a Sunday mass in the area say about who Jesus is to you?
2) When was the last time you went on a retreat or a day of prayer or a day of recollection? THAT MAN IS YOU is coming up. Though it is at an incredibly early time, starting at 5:30am – will you give up one morning of sleep to say that Jesus is YOUR messiah? Women – there is the monthly “Enough” meeting over at St. E’s – will you tell Jesus he matters to you by spending time with him? Have you been to the White House retreat in a while?
3) Loosing and Binding are the ‘powers’ given to Peter. Do they know the forgiveness of Jesus because of your forgiveness? Or do you hold them bound in unforgiveness? How well do you introduce them into the life of Jesus’ forgiveness?
And just for fun, the next time you have to intro your hubby or wife at a function – surprise them by how you do it – Write your equivalent of “He is my upside down man.”
Introductions are so important. They begin and nurture and sustain relationships. Once again at this table, Jesus introduces us to a Father’s love, a Son’s gift, a Spirit’s abundance. May the dialogue continue…