the pattern for posting i've begun is to write new posts on sunday and schedule them to be posted on the following tuesday. during the week i list ideas for future posts and mull those ideas over as i prepare for the following sunday's writing experience. one of the ideas that came to me this week was the use of the plural first-person pronoun in the lord's prayer. i've begun to conclude my morning meditation with a silent recitation of this prayer, and it suddenly struck me that Jesus didn't pray "my father" or "give me this day my daily bread;" He used "our," and "us." was Jesus suggesting that His gospel was one of concern for the common good rather than then individual good?
this concept has been much on my mind as i think about the path our country must choose approaching the upcoming election. while i don't want to make any political statements in the post i write this morning, i can't escapt the solcial implications of Jesus' teachings. i think of his reply to the wealthy man who asked Jesus about how to gain eternal life, a teaching i've posted about recently. in replying to the man, was Jesus telling him that his wealth was causing him to focus on himself, that in order to gain eternal life he had to let go of his self-interest and give himself over to caring for others? when Jesus taught that the summation of the law and the prophets was whole-hearted love for God and loving one's neighbor as oneself, was He teaching that the two are so interconnected that it is impossible to have one without the other? when Jesus taught that when we feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, and clothe the naked we are doing these kindnesses to Him, was he suggesting that our acts of kindness to others were truly acts of love for God?
the more i read the gospels (matthew is my currect project after several read-throughs of mark), the more i am convinced that the teachings of Jesus were not about an individual salvation, but a collective one. i have come to believe that when Jesus told us that one must lose one's life in order to save that life what He was teaching is that in serving others we forget "self" and become true citizens of the kingdom of which Jesus spoke. in this real sense, as john greenleaf whittier said, each smile becomes a hymn, each kindly deed becomes a prayer.
my prayer this week is that we will look to the common good, not the individual good, for it is only by looking to that common good that the indivual good is truly realized, that we replace the "i's" and "me's" in our lives with "we" and "us."