Memorial of Saint Boniface

At Mass yesterday, I talked about the paradigm shift that happens with deep conversion.  There is a shift from the things of this world to a focus on God. 

Paradigms are important to us.  We often learn by relating something to new to something that we already know.  I know that I do that all the time.  This new thing is like this other thing that I know in these ways.  It is different in these few small ways.  That is how I comprehend things.  To teach me something new, one almost needs to start with the words, “This is like…”

The Jewish people of the first century were awaiting the Messiah.  The Old Testament gave them sufficient clues that one would be coming.  But those passages sometimes (or even often) framed the Messiah as a successor to King David or as the fulfillment of the Davidic kingdom.  So, they related this new Messiah to that which they already knew something about – King David. 

Despite his flaws (see Bathsheba and Uriah), King David was known as the one whom God especially loved, and his kingdom was considered as the pinnacle of the earthly kingdom that the Jewish people once knew. 

So, the Jewish people of the first century looked for a new King David.  Someone who would restore the earthly kingdom of Israel.  One who would throw off the yoke of Roman occupation and restore their country to the power that it once knew.

That was their paradigm.

Instead, Jesus came to establish a different sort of kingdom.  Not an earthly kingdom but the Kingdom of God.  A kingdom of the spiritual realm that starts in our own hearts.  This was a kingdom preached by someone from the least likely background.  He was not a priest, a scribe, or any other sort of religious leader.  He was not even from Jerusalem.  He was the apparent son of a craftsman from Nazareth in Galilee.  He did not gather intellectual experts around him.  He gathered fishermen and even a tax collector.  He was, as one contemporary author writes, a “Marginal Jew” because he came from the margins of Jewish society.

For many, their paradigm impeded their acceptance of the Messiah.  Because he did not fit their preconceived notions, they rejected him.  He was a square peg that would not fit in the round hole.

Are we open to God as he is?  Or do we try to force God to be the God that we want?  Do we ask God to reveal himself to us?