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  • Writer's pictureFr. Gustavo

"Hanging out with Jesus"

The "hornero" builds a home out of hay and mud.
"Hornero" (Furnarius rufus)

Unless you follow our Facebook or this website, for that matter, page on a regular basis, you may have missed one of my usual pearls of wisdom.


Last Monday, I wrote, “In the Christian journey, resiliency is the name of the game.”


Writing in the forties of fifties, in the very early years of the Church, past the halcyon days of the Pentecost upsurge, and when the persecution of the Christians began in earnest, St. James asserted,


“Blessed are those who endure when they are tested.  When they pass the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him,” (James 1:12).


Like Jesus, in St. James there was no hint about a “victorious” or “perfect” life, but the realization that the Christian life is not a quarter mile sprint, but a long marathon.


For the early Christian fathers of the church, at the heart of the Christian life there is the notion of faithfulness rather than sinlessness, resiliency rather than fitfulness what really matters.


In St Paul’s words, the Christian is often “Pressed on every side, but not crushed.  Perplexed, but not driven to despair.  Knocked down, but not destroyed.”  (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).


Which is what Jesus had in mind when He asked his followers to stick with Him no matter what.  “As I am abiding in you, you just abide in me.”


As Lutheran Pastor David Lose writes in “In the Meantime”, “If Jesus had only said, ‘abide in me or else,’ that would be a different matter. But it is not.  ‘Abide in me,’ Jesus says, ‘as I abide in you.’ This is more than good advice.  More than an invitation.  This is a promise that no matter what happens, Jesus will be with us.  That no matter what happens, Jesus will hold onto us.  And that no matter what happens, God in Jesus will bring all things to a good end.


“Which is not to say, by the way, that everything happens for a reason. Rather, it is to say that no matter what happens, we have God’s promise in Jesus to work for good.  Keep in mind, after all, that these words were said just before Jesus went on to the cross. 


And Pastor David concludes this way, “If the cross means anything, I think it means that God chose not to sit back in heaven, removed from the pain and paucity of our mortal, free, and difficult life in this world, but rather came in Christ to be joined to it – the ups and downs, the hopes and disappointments, the frailties and faults of our life in this world – so that we would know of God’s unending commitment to us.”


Now, if you were to visit Argentina, I am sure you would be surprised by the abundance of “Horneros” nests. (Check out the Bulletin).  As you may ride along byways, you will see either at the top of a fence pole, an utility pole, or even under the eaves of a house, the striking home of the “Hornero”.


The name “Hornero” makes a reference to a clay oven.  The bird, as you can see, builds up a nest using traditional elements, hay, grass, and mud. 


It is difficult to say if nature copies humans or if it is the other way around.  Traditional country ovens look exactly the same, they are built in the same way, but they are only larger to accommodate a larger baking pan. And all over the world human dwellings are built using the same materials!


“Horneros” are about the size of a Robin.  They mate for life, both work together in building their home, and they stick to the place they call home for life.  Even, if for some reason their nest is knocked down, they will rebuild on top of the old nest. 


In my mind, these little birds have a true understanding of what Jesus meant when he invited us to abide in Him.


To abide both implies both place and attitude. 


Jesus invites us to abide in Him.  As a second language learner, quite often I mess up with the use of prepositions.  And I am sure that Malynn cringes whenever she hears mixing in with on, and at and by, and so forth.


Well, Greek, for a change, at least in this department is fairly simple.  “In” as in “abide in me” signifies all of the above.  The preposition includes, “in, on, at, by, and with.”


So, when Jesus opens the door of His heart to us, it means it all, in every way possible.  However, if it is up to us to decide if we would rather sit by the door or come in and make our Lord’s heart our home.


It is a place to make home when the hopes and disappointments of daily life hit hard, for when the dark clouds of problems begin to pile up, and for when the frailties and faults of our human condition buffet us with the winds of doubt.


Like the horneros, when the storm hits hard, when the winds shake the foundation of their little home, they both retreat into the safe embrace of their nest, in the assurance that somehow, the sun will shine again.


The horneros’ home is a place not only to sit tight and endure, but it is a place to dream about the new life that in due course will come.  Like them, when we abide in Jesus we can dream and hope as the bonds of affection between host and guest grow to the point that both guest and host become just one, united in the eternal embrace of God’s love.


And finally, it implies attitude.  It is up to us to visit every now and then – just the courtesy visit – or if we decide to move in for the duration.  Jesus is not Airbnb for an occasional stay, but a place to make our true and eternal home.


As St John remarks in our second lesson, “God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.”


In the Scripture’s view, hanging out with Jesus is way more than following a long list of do’s and don’ts.  Like in any other relationship, however, even if in the practical side of a relationship there are some do’s and don’ts, the relationship into which Jesus invites us to partake it is not based on a scorecard, but on God’s deep and eternal bond of love.


Let us pray,


Lord, I want to abide in you and remain in you not only because you invited me into your heart, but because I know that it is abiding in you that I can find the true blessings of life, peace, and joy that you are so willing to share with me.  Surround me with your love, secure me with your loving embrace, and fill me with the joy of knowing the peace that passes all understanding.  For you are my Creator, Redeemer, and Friend.  Amen.


Fr. Gustavo

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