Monday, January 28, 2008

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 8:23—9:3
1 Cor 1:10-13, 17
Mt 4:12-17

Darkness. It’s something we live in about half the time. That’s not surprising since it is the way the world is made. The sun rises, the sun sets, so we live part of our lives in darkness. In this part of the world, at least, that averages out over the year to about a 50-50 split, half of the time we spend in darkness. We don’t like that very much, being in the dark. We tell children not to be afraid of the dark, there’s nothing there that isn’t there in the light, but deep inside of us there is something visceral that just doesn’t like being in the dark. That’s why we work so hard at mitigating the dark, coming up with all forms of artificial light, so we won’t be in the dark. We don’t like not being able to see what is around us, not knowing what is there. Yes, we get past our fear of the dark, we know that the sun will come up, that the light will return. There is another kind of darkness that we live in, a darkness that isn’t so easily escaped. Some people live in darkness brought about by illness and disease, physical illness and mental illness. Illness works to draw us into the dark, it chases away our peace, our joy, our happiness. It seeks to put us in darkness and keep us there. Then there is the darkness of sin, the darkness we all live in when we fail to love as we are called to love, when we act selfishly rather than selflessly. When we hate, when we are angry, when we choose to not love, we are pulled into darkness that, on our own, we cannot escape. Yet there is hope. The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light. The Son had risen, the light of Christ illuminates the world, calling us from the darkness into the light. The Light is comfort for those who suffer, bringing solace and peace. The Light is peace, love, forgiveness for all of us who live in the darkness of sin. This Light, unlike the light of the sun, never sets. The Light of Christ is there for us always, calling us away from the darkness of pain and sin, into the light of peace, comfort, forgiveness, and love. All we need do is heed the call of Christ, come into the Light, the reign of God is at hand.

Deacon John
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 27, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 49:3, 5-6
1 Cor 1:1-3
Jn 1:29-34

John the Baptizer, a voice crying in the wilderness, opening the way for someone he did not know. John wasn’t sure who was coming, he just knew someone was. “A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” Many who came to John for Baptism believed that he, John was the Messiah, the one to come. Indeed, there are groups of people in the Middle East to this day who still believe that John is the Messiah. The Baptist, however, knew differently. He knew that he was the one sent to prepare the way, the way for one he did not know, but the one he would recognize. That is why he was able to cry out, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” John saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus and knew, this is the one, this is the one I have waited for, and then proceeded to tell all who would listen.
Many days in our prayers we make this same cry, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” We say it, but how often do we recognize the Lamb? All too easily we say the words, and all too easily we fail to hear them. To recognize the Lamb of God requires action on our part. First, the painful acknowledgement that there is sin in the world and we a we a big part of it. Second, while it is imperative that we recognize the Lamb, our responsibility does not end there. The sin of the world, that is our responsibility. We are a part of the greed, the lust, the hate, the anger and the violence that is the sin of the world. We hate to admit it, we don’t want to recognize it, but that sin is ours. We have a choice, a choice made clear to us by the Baptizer many years ago. We can wallow in the sin, remaining mired in the depths of depravity, or we can looks up and cry out, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Deacon John
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 20, 2008

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Baptism of the Lord

Is 42:1-4, 6-7
Acts 10:34-38
Mt 3:13-17

It’s ridiculous. That’s all it can be, simply ridiculous. The Christ, the Messiah, the Second Person of the Trinity, the Word made Flesh, seeks to be baptized by a mere human being. The one through whom all things were made seeks baptism from one who was made. The Messiah seeks a baptism of repentance. Repentance for what? The spotless Lamb has nothing to repent! It seems absolutely ridiculous. Even John looks at the Christ and says, don’t you have this backwards? You should baptize me, not the other way round. But the Christ says to him, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” So John relents and does as Jesus asks. Jesus sought baptism for one reason. Yes Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus is divine, but Jesus is also human. Jesus is one of us, like us in every way but sin. So why baptism? To demonstrate to us that Jesus is indeed one of us. God and human. In baptism Jesus takes on our burden in preparation for ministering to the people. Jesus is baptized as he prepares to face temptation, as he prepares to spread the Good News of the Kingdom of God. For us baptism is our preparation, our entry into the Body of Christ. Jesus was baptized to show solidarity with us. We are baptized to become one in Christ. At Jesus baptism the Spirit descends like a dove and God says this is my beloved in whom I am well pleased. At our baptism we are recognized as well, as God takes us in making us children of God, one Body, united in Christ. Perhaps then this baptism is not so ridiculous a notion after all.

Deacon John
The Baptism of the Lord
Jan. 13, 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Epiphany of the Lord

Is 60:1-6
Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6
Mt 2:1-12
An obscure Jewish cult. That is, after all what Christianity could well have been, just an obscure Jewish cult, save for the rising of a star. I am not an expert on religions of the Ancient Near East, but the concept of the messiah appears to have been a Jewish concept. A Jewish Messiah, come to the Jewish people. A Messiah come to lead Israel, to establish the place of Israel in the world. The idea did not seem to apply to outsiders, and certainly some of the early followers of the Christ wanted to keep it that way. Conversion to Judaism had to precede, or at least be a part of, following the Christ. Then, there is the story of the Magi, wise ones who come from the east, following a star. This star rose and was seen by them as the sign of the birth of a great ruler, a new ruler of the Jews, but more than that. These Wise Ones, three or three hundred, we really don’t know, come from, somewhere else. They are not Jews, they are Gentiles, yet they come to pay homage to the newborn Messiah, the Christ, the anointed one who comes for all. They come drawn by a star. The Word made flesh is made manifest to the world. Thus Paul says, “It was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” The Christ has come, the Christ has come for all humanity. That my sisters and brothers, is us, we are humanity, we are the People of God, we are who the Christ came to save. Let us rejoice today in the Word made flesh, made manifest to the world.
An obscure Jewish cult, that is what Christianity could have been, save for the rising of a star.

Deacon John
The Epiphany of the Lord
Jan. 6, 2008