In an effort to come to a better understanding of where I fall as far as faith and morality goes, I'm rereading the Bible, this time in smaller chunks and with a greater eye to analysis of the text. I'm using the catholic liturgical calendar as my guide, as well as the system of reading distribution found in works such as the Liturgy of the Hours: A generic reading, then a psalm, then a gospel reading. You can follow along with the readings of the day at catholic.org, though really, the precise order in which these are read is not nearly as important as reading the whole thing.
The first reading today was Acts 12:24-13:5, which deal with the apostles Barnabas and Saul, who are on their way to Cyprus to preach the truth of god in the Synagogues. This is a curious act. I find no message in it, except perhaps to suggest that it is important to preach truth even where it is unpopular. I wonder, though, how far that missive extends. Surely, but the standards of our time, and certainly the standards of the Apostles' time, this would have been a massive social faux-pas. We have a word for people who preach at inopportune times - Westboro. Still, they became saints, and I'm stuck here going "Well, that was rude." I really am bad at this.
Searching for hope, I turn to the next reading, which is a section of Psalm 67, removed from context. It's general-purpose praise of God, which is oddly uplifting to say out-loud, but otherwise gives no real momentum to me. I've learned nothing from that particular experience except to say that my untrained attempts at Gregorian intonation are foolish and shouldn't be repeated.
At last we come to the Gospel reading. I'm excited. This is the meat and potatoes of the faith - to me, to be Christian is to follow Christ specifically rather than the God of Abraham in general.
From the first two lines, I'm immediately corrected, and that's a little creepy. Christ goes ahead and points out that anyone who believes in him believes not in him, but in the one who sent him. The rest of course is the usual, somewhat-preachy, somewhat-familial way he always has of pointing out that there's no road to heaven apart from him, but he's not condemning anyone, and he's not making any judgements.
It's odd, isn't it, that the day I pick up my bible to actually give a proper look at it, that this is the reading. This sort of thing right here, that makes Christ seem wise to a hopeless little leftist like me. "I have come not to judge the world, but to save the world", says the Lord. I think Christians, in general, should be more like that.
It just seems odd, the timing.