Are You Just Living on the Surface?

Jonah 1:1-2:2, 11 /  Lk 10:25-37

Educators make a key distinction between what they call “surface knowledge” as opposed to what’s known as “dynamic knowledge.” Surface knowledge encompasses most of what is traditionally learned in schools. For example, how many persons there are in the Trinity, or in what year Columbus first set foot in the new world. Such knowledge is easily forgotten and has little effect on life. On the other hand, there’s dynamic knowledge which encompasses the information and insights — wholesome or otherwise — that actually come into play when we make choices. In that category, we’d hope to find judgments such as, “God can be trusted,” and “There is life after death.”

Most Catholic adults and, indeed, most of their children know the story of the Good Samaritan, which is today’s gospel. And most of us would have a ready answer to the question, “According to Jesus, who is my neighbor?” Our answer would be simple and clear: “Everybody,” and our answer would be right. But that doesn’t close the matter. There’s a further question: Is our right answer surface knowledge or dynamic knowledge? Is it strictly correct information, or does it actually affect and determine the way we live?

That’s the crucial question for us all, and it can be phrased in another way: How Christian are we, in fact?  Does Jesus’ teaching determine our priorities, our lifestyle, the way we do business, the way we treat one another, our willingness to forgive, our readiness to help? It’s a chilling thought to remember that Stalin, Hitler, and Mussolini were all baptized Christians who knew their prayers by heart.

So how Christian are you really? Check the patterns of your daily choices, and you’ll know right away. The patterns never lie.