Jesus is the Teacher who shows us by words and by works what it means to become all things to all for the sake of God’s kingdom.
Jesus asks his disciples, “And you, who do you say that I am?” It is the number one question for all time about him (TWVDP 22). And, of course, answers vary, which seems to turn him into all things to all of us with varying concerns. In other words, who we say he is may show more what concerns us than what he is in himself.
Yes, more often than not we make him what we want him to be: yesterday, we took him for a rabbi; today, he is a liberator. Still and all, no disciple can do without a personal answer that will size up his or her being a disciple. It is not enough that we say what others say about him.
And St. Vincent’s answer is also from where he is. For he ties Jesus to his mission; he takes him for a missionary. But the saint does not pull his answer out of thin air; it comes rather from the gospels.
So too should our own answers be. They cannot come from sheer fantasy, but from Scriptures that make us think and pray. That is why we strive to know Scriptures, by God’s gift —rich, wise, knowing is he— to know Christ (St. Jerome).
Jesus, say the gospels, becomes all things to all to save all.
The gospels cannot capture all of the rich reality of Jesus (TWVDP 11). So, they describe it in pieces and from varying points of view. But they all agree that Jesus is all things to all; most of all, he is weak to the weak.
And he is so, better than St. Paul (SV.EN XII:205). Jesus, for instance, takes things of nature as we do. And we see this in the comparisons he uses: the grain of wheat that rots and sprouts, the seed that falls on good soil and yields a big harvest.
The Teacher, yes, is all things to all. So, he speaks the language of those to whom he reaches out (Comentarios al evangelio #1). He reminds the laborer of his labors, the merchant of his dealings, the fishermen of their tasks. As he talks to housewives, he speaks of how they patch clothes, and sweep floors to find a lost coin.
And, of course, he is food for those with hunger and drink for those with thirst.
But to say correctly that Jesus is all things to all is one thing. And to live up to what one says is another. Will not those not true to what they say be let go so others can take their place? And for Vincent’s own, to live up to what they say means to be full of mercy (SV.EN XI:308).
Lord Jesus, grant that we can say with Job: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you.” And make it plain to us that you are all things to all.
27 August 2023
21st Sunday in O.T. (A)
Is 22, 19-23; Rom 11, 33-36; Mt 16, 13-20