Sunday, June 11, 2017

What Is Missing From The Gospels?

But there are also many other things which Jesus did;
were every one of them to be written, I suppose that
the world itself could not contain the books that
would be written.
– John 21:25
The above words are the last sentence from the Gospel of John.  They say that Jesus did many things beyond just those captured in the Bible, and so I was led to wonder on just what those other things might be, and I asked myself why were they so unimportant or less important that they didn’t merit mentioning by John?
Well, that question was in fact answered by John --- these things WERE important and WERE mentioned here; they were just not detailed.  Everything that Jesus did, especially in His public life, was important.  So, what were these important, excluded things?  The Spirit tells me that no great doctrine of Jesus was excluded from the Bible; there was no “and abortion is okay in the case of rape” or “it’s a loving act to kill old people with dementia” said by Jesus but omitted by the Gospel writers.  No, no major surprises were omitted.  So then, were the omitted things Jesus did just more of the same, as written:  more miracles, more evangelization in the temples, and more talking to his apostles?  I think it’s certain Jesus did more of all of those things --- although if there were a feeding of 20,000 or a raising of a whole graveyard of the dead it likely would have been included by the Gospel writers in their works.  So, in general then, what is missing?
John’s was the last (and many say the greatest) of the Gospels.  He does detail some events not elaborated on in the other Gospels, but the thing that stands out for me (and many others) about John’s Gospel is the section often called The Great Discourse.  This is Chapters 13-17; the lengthy talk given by Jesus at the Last Supper.  This section is unique and, as Jesus’ last words to His apostles, important.  And over and over again, in various ways and with various examples these words emphasize one thing: “You must act in love; I came to teach you how to love.”
So, what were the actions of Jesus not written of in the Gospels?  In a word, I think they were actions of love.  Words cannot adequately describe agape love in action; even seeing it, it is difficult to describe.  I think missing from the Gospels are the many, many times Jesus acted in love --- with each and every person He met.  (I remind you again the words of Roman historians, who noted the distinctiveness of the Christians: “See how they love one another.”)  I’ve read testimonies of people who caught Pope John Paul II’s eye for just a moment as he paraded by, and in that moment, they say they felt his love.  I’m sure everyone who caught Jesus’ eye felt that way also --- perhaps a strange and scary event for some who may never have felt loved before.  And I’m sure Jesus had many dinners with sinners, and many with just common folk --- nobodies like us.  He was just friends with them; He just loved them.  And I’m sure He spent many a day or night listening with empathy to the problems of people who came to Him or people He just met in passing.  He listened with love, and He undoubtedly prayed with them --- even the most obnoxious ones, whom we would probably shun.
I think that’s what Jesus did, which was so common that details were omitted from the Gospels:  He just loved those He met.  It’s what He said to do in that Final Discourse, His last and perhaps most important words.  It’s written that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus during His Baptism in the Jordan (and Thomas Aquinas wrote that the proper name of the Spirit is Love).  And so, if we wish to follow His word and example, it’s what we must do:  Pray the Holy Spirit would come to us also, so that we might love those we meet, the people God puts in our lives.
He loved them because they needed Him.  And He tells us they need us also, as we need them.
There are so many people in need of love all around us, if we would just open our eyes.  There are so many organizations you can join or help:  food distributions, soup kitchens, visit-the-sick ministries, hospice ministries, caregiver ministries, and ministries to the homebound – like Meals on Wheels.  “What can I do” is a question asked only by those not seriously looking --- or listening, or those who believe that they can fulfill the commandment to love by writing a check. 
Specific words about living a life of love may be missing from the Gospels, but they permeate every single word and action of Jesus:  Just love them, as I do.  Time well-spent now, will yield time well-spent in eternity, with LOVE.   

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