Monday in the Twenty-Eighth Week of Ordinary Time
The Sign of Jonah, Jesus tells the crowd, includes the preaching. The preaching (around the theme of “repent and believe in the Good News”) is about caring about what we care about. To do that, we have to repent, we have to change what we care about most because what we care about most constitutes us as a person. When there is a discrepancy between what we believe and how we behave, it reveals what we really care about. Growing up, my parents and the BVM’s didn’t just teach me about right and wrong; they taught me to care about what is right and what is wrong…and to care deeply. And they, in responding to the Good News, exemplified it.
The Sign shown by Jesus and by Jonah was not merely to be imitated. Because it was a call to deep caring, it was to be emulated. To emulate is not just to copy, but to care about what the model cares about. It is to admire. Newer members of a monastic community can imitate superiors and seniors by “suiting up and showing up”. But since seniors and the new man are “truly seeking God” the novice must emulate or care about what they emulate. A genuine dilemma of caring, deep caring, occurs if they decide his emulation just doesn’t count. Deep personal caring tends to rely on what the community deems worthwhile. Christianity is a form of personal communion.
So, when St. Paul says, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ,” he is asking us to emulate him as he emulates Christ Who emulates the Father. Emulate the emulator.