Sunday, January 25, 2009

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jon 3:1-5, 10
1 Cor 7:29-31
Mk 1:14-20

The man comes walking down the lakeshore, a group of people following him. There’s a buzz in the air about things he has done, things he has said. He walks past the brothers Simon and Andrew. They are fishermen, casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee. He calls to them, “Come after me,” and they abandon their nets to follow him. Farther down the shore he passes James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also fishermen. As they sit in their boat with their father Zebedee and the hired men he calls to them to follow him. They drop their nets, jump out of the boat, leaving their father Zebedee in the boat and follow him. What about Zebedee? What did he do? How did he feel? What was his reaction? Perhaps he simply sat there in stunned silence, watching his sons disappear down the beach with this man. Perhaps he tried to stop them. I can see Zebedee chasing them down the beach shouting at them, “Come back here! Where do you think you are going? We have work to do, a business to run, a family to feed.” He may have tried to stop them, but ultimately could not. Did he disown them, did he abandon them as he felt they had abandoned him? Or, did he approve of their going? Perhaps he even assisted them as they entered this new life. Maybe he went with them. We really don’t know. The only mention of Zebedee in Scripture that I can find is as the father of James and John. What did Zebedee do? What do we do when we find ourselves in the position that Zebedee found himself in? Should a loved one come to us, expressing a call to follow Christ in a new way, a deeper way, how do we react? Do we stare in stunned silence? Do we try to talk them into being “reasonable,” standing in the way intentionally or not? Or do we encourage them, perhaps even following them on the journey? When I approached my wife about entering the diaconate, I put her in the place of Zebedee. I’m sure she stared at me in stunned silence for a moment, but then she had to make the choice Zebedee had to make. Stop this, or allow it. Obviously, she chose to allow it, she chose to accompany me, so that we made this journey together. Someone comes to us, expressing a desire to follow Christ in a new way, a more meaningful way. It doesn’t have to be as big a commitment such as the diaconate, or entering the priesthood, or religious life. Perhaps it is just a change in attitude, a desire to do and know more. Perhaps they are simply taking their faith and their relationship with God more seriously. They approach us for approval, they make us Zebedee. How do we choose to react?

Deacon John
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan. 25, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19
1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Jn 1:35-42

Each of us is called by God, but how do we know that what we hear is God? Discerning the call of God can be difficult. God called Samuel, but Samuel did not realize that what he heard was God calling. Samuel, however had Eli to help him. Eli understood that the call Samuel heard was from God. Samuel responded when he knew the call was from God. In the Gospel reading two followers of John the Baptizer are told outright that Jesus is the Lamb of God, so they follow him. Andrew, one of these two who followed Jesus finds his brother Simon to tell him that they have found the Christ. They brought Simon to Jesus, who calls him directly, renaming him Cephas, Peter. There was no question about the call these people heard. Samuel had Eli to assist him, to tell him his call was from God. The followers of John the Baptizer are told by John that Jesus is the Messiah. Simon is called by Jesus himself, face to face. We, on the other hand, don’t seem to have quite so good. We probably don’t have an Eli around to assist us. We’re not likely to have a face to face encounter with Christ. We have to discern if what we think is a call is actually from God. Is the call a call toward selflessness, or selfishness? Selflessness is from God, selfishness is from us. Is the call a call to service, service to the people of God? If so it may indeed be a call from God. Is the call a call to right wrongs, to act justly? If so that call may indeed be from God. God calls us to pour ourselves out, to give ourselves to God, to give ourselves to the service of God’s people. This is what each of us, as followers of Jesus Christ are asked to do, to pour ourselves out, just as Samuel did, just as Andrew did, just as Peter did, just as the Christ did. We pour ourselves out in following God’s call, emptying ourselves, only to find the emptiness filled with God’s love and grace.

Deacon John
The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jan 18, 2009

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Is 42:1-4, 6-7
1 Jn 5:1-9
Mk 1:7-11

John the Baptizer said, “One mightier than I is coming after me.” One mightier indeed. Yet this mighty one who comes, comes humbly, not as a conqueror but as a servant. This mighty one approaches the Baptizer and seeks baptism. Why? Why would the mighty one of God, the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ, deign to be baptized by John? To show us the way and to open for us the door. At Jesus baptism the heavens were torn open, and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove, and the voice of God comes forth saying this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. In humility, the Christ is recognized as God’s beloved. The Word of God made flesh acts in humility, bows before God, and is recognized as the child of God. We, unfortunately, tend to be very, very arrogant indeed. Are we not the pinnacle of creation? Is not the entire world subject to us? We want to believe that. We act as though we are in control, yet we never really are. We study history and see how hubris caused others to fall, but we never seem to learn the lesson. There is much we can do, we have learned much. We are intelligent, but we are not wise. We fail over and over again to see the power in humility. The power of the Christ comes from humility. The power of the Christ comes from Christ’s willingness to bow before God, to accept the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit. We have the power to make that same choice. We can bow before God and allow the Spirit of God to be our guide. We can accept humility, and in that acceptance find true strength, real power. We can accept humility and hear God say to us this is my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.

Deacon John
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Jan. 11, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

Nm 6:22-27
Gal 4:4-7
Lk 2:16-21

Some of the tradition surrounding the Gospel of Luke states that he got his information directly from Mary. The line in this Gospel reading, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” probably helps fuel this idea. Whether Luke got information from Mary or not is really immaterial. The idea that Mary kept these things in her heart and reflected on them is important. I am sure she did. She’s a mother, she would always keep these things about her child in her heart, and she would reflect on them. Her child belongs to the world, but he is still her child. Mary’s child, however, came for us, for you and for me. How often do we reflect on what Christ did? Do we hold these things in our hearts? It seems fitting that we start the calendar year with this Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. We would do well to follow her example during the course of this new year, to hold these things in our hearts and reflect on what was done for us.

Deacon John
The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
Jan 1, 2009