Challenging ourselves to discover life's greatest answers

The new book by John Dear, SJ, is called The Questions of Jesus, and the subtitle is, "Challenging ourselves to discover life's greatest answers."

The book is literally arranged around the questions that Jesus asks in the Gospels, grouped thematically. I have been reading a question or three a day from the book for the last month, and it has been helpful.

Richard Rohr says in the foreword of the book, "I am told that Jesus only directly answers 3 of the 183 questions that he himself is asked! This is totally surprising to people who have grown up assuming that the very job description of religion is to give people answers and to solve people's dilemmas. Apparently this is not Jesus' understanding of the function of religion because he operates very differently."

Dear is a long-time peace activist and teacher of the gospel of nonviolence. He spent time in prison with Philip Berrigan, SJ, after they participated in a Plowshares anti-nuclear-weapons action together. I read his autobiography recently, too, called A Persistent Peace: One Man's Struggle for a Nonviolent World. It was interesting, in a voyeuristic way because of all the well-known people he has worked with. The most interesting stories, though, had more to do with the ordinary individuals or communities he has worked with, as a teacher, and later as a parish priest in New Mexico.

Overall, I find The Questions of Jesus a much deeper book. It has such a gentle and loving tone to it, too. I just finished this passage about this question: "Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span? If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?" (Matthew 6:27; Luke 12:26).

Dear concludes the reflection on these questions:
"Every major religion suggests that they key to a peaceful life is the letting go of control and worry and living fully aware in the present moment. If we can live in the freedom of the present moment and center ourselves in the peace of God, we will find life turned upside down. We will no longer worry about the past or the future but will be fully alive to the present. And by being fully present to ourselves, others, and God, we will live our lives to the fullest. When we come to the moment of our death, as Thoreau said, we will not have wasted the gift of life but will have lived it to the full." (p. 102)
May you live your life to the full as well.

1 comment:

Tom Smith said...

Thanks for the reference. I will try to read "The Questions of Jesus." As a teacher I have felt that it is more important to teach how to ask good questions than to provide pat answers. I also have spent a good deal of time and shared vocal ministries on at least 3 of the major early questions of God as recorded in the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and Elijah.

Where are you?
Where is your brother?
What are you doing here?