Saturday, January 26, 2013

"Fulfilled in your hearing"

I imagine the scene in the synagogue as Jesus finishes speaking.  Absolute silence – if you listen hard enough you can hear the crickets in the background; so profound was the silence in that room as “all looked at him intently.”

Today marks a turning point in Jesus’ ministry.  Up until now he was just an ordinary itinerant preacher, one among many, traveling around the country side.  Now he begins his journey to Jerusalem which ends on a hillside in Calvary.  We know that this is not the end, but the beginning and with this bold proclamation Jesus sets us on our path of discipleship.  His mission becomes our mission to the world as followers of His Way.

Jesus arrives in Nazareth, his home town where everyone knows him. He is just the carpenter’s son, the son of Mary.  “We know his brothers and sisters,” the people say, “they still live here among us.”

Now Jesus, as the good Jewish son that he is, reverent, dedicated to God and the practice of his faith, goes into the synagogue, as expected.  An ordinary act, as ordinary as each one of us on Sunday attending Mass, as is our custom.

And as is the custom, Jesus, who has been away from home, is invited to read.  He selects from among the scrolls of scripture, Isaiah, the great prophet.   He reads from the Immanuel prophesies, the announcement of the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus proclaims:
  • I am filled with the Spirit of God. It is I whom He sends to you
  • I bring hope to the poor and outcast
  • I announce freedom to those held captive by oppression and despair
  • I give sight to those who cannot see and heal those sick at heart
  • I release from sin those held in its terrible grip
  • I bring to you God’s favor and blessings; proclaiming that all should live in right relationship with God and one another.
  • All that was promised to you is now come to be.  In me is your hope and life.

This is our belief in Jesus – he is our hope and our life.  His mission is our mission.  He calls his disciples to continue the work he began on earth:
  • Giving hope to the poor and marginalized
  • Helping one another to see the truth of God’s promise of salvation and Eternal Life
  • Bringing the Light into the lives of the forlorned and despaired
  • Encouraging all to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness; to leave sin behind and seek the better things of God’s Kingdom on earth
  • Making saints of one another by living in right relationship – filled with God’s love, compassion, mercy and forgiveness.
  • Loving God and giving Him praise for all that he does for us: for His gifts of grace, His bounty of this earth and sharing its life-sustaining resources.

God uses the ordinary to confound those who would make gods of themselves.  It is through the weak and ordinary that God accomplishes his mighty works.  God gives each of us, through our baptism, gifts and talents to do his will, the work begun in Christ Jesus. 

  • We are the proclaimer’s of God’s truth.
  • We bring His Good News to the poor,
  • We carry his message of freedom to the oppressed,
  • We heal the sick and give sight to the blind
  • We free captives to sin through our works in the Lord
  • We are the peacemakers; living God’s love of forgiveness, compassion and mercy. 

  • By our Life in Christ, - we proclaim God’s favor on his people.
  • In the Peace of Christ, - we live in right relationship with one another, greeting one another with love, mercy and compassion.
  • In the Light of Christ, - we:
    •  give aid to the fallen,
    • give hope to the discouraged,
    • give voice to the oppressed and forgotten
  • In the Love of Christ - we lift each other up bringing His Light into World.

Our discipleship is doing and being Christ’s work, fulfilling his mission.  He sends his Spirit to fill us, so:
  • we who are ordinary
  • can do the extra-ordinary. 
Filled with God’s Spirit we proclaim the Good News that all people are Beloved Children of God - heirs of his Kingdom of Heaven and Life Everlasting.

Deacon Don Ron

Wedding at Cana

A wedding is a sign of a new beginning.  A new beginning of lives joined together – two becoming one.  It is a new beginning of people living in hope of a bright future.  Leaving behind their old lives for a new life together - a beginning of a new and everlasting pledge of love, faith and devotion to one another – bridegroom and bride - that shall remain unbroken.

At the Wedding at Cana we have a new beginning, a joining together of two to become one.  We have the beginning of a new relationship that leaves behind their former lives to begin a new life – joined together, - the beginning of a new and everlasting pledge of love, faith and devotion – a covenant of bridegroom and bride – that shall remain unbroken. 

The focus is not the wedding of the bridegroom and his bride, but on Jesus, the Bridegroom joining with his bride, the Church.  Here is the very beginning, - the joining together, - a wedding - of Jesus with the people of God - that takes place during this celebration at Cana.  It is the beginning of a new relationship between Jesus and His bride – leaving behind their old lives - and together - forming a new life – filled with hope, love and devotion – that shall remain unbroken forever and ever.

Jesus’ first miracle, - the changing of water into wine begins with Mary, his mother.  She, in love and concern, recognizes a problem – and says to Jesus, “They have no wine”.  His answer though is unexpected – “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”  A little cold and harsh, don’t you think?  But Mary, who has kept all things in her heart, tells the servers “Do whatever he tells you.”

Weddings are about relationship – new relationships forming, old relationships changing – as bridegroom and bride discovering their new lives together.  Here we have the relationship of Jesus with his Father increasing in emphasis. It is the very beginning of His Hour – His Hour that comes to fulfillment on the cross.  It is a relationship increasing as the Divine is now emphasized in Jesus. 

The relationship of Jesus with his mother and brothers is now diminishing.  As Jesus grows in his Divinity, - his relationship with his bride, the Church, increases.  In his new life with his bride - his relationship with his mother and brothers is de-emphazied.  To show this change, in another story, Jesus is told his mother and brothers are waiting outside for him, and he replies, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  Jesus shows his new - increasing relationship with his new family.

Mary shows her unconditional love and trust in Jesus.  As his first disciple, she understands and accepts this change in Jesus and believes.  She asks the servers to also trust in Jesus - and accept his word when she tells them to, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Jesus’ word to them is to “fill the jars” which they do in silent obedience.  Jesus then tells the servers to “draw some out and take it to the headwaiter.”  All that happens - comes through the word of Jesus.

The word of Jesus – brings about a transformation – a miracle - the changing of water into wine.  In their silent witness, the servers who knew the jars were filled with water, see and come to trust in his word and his disciples come to believe too, as they witness the power of Jesus’ word. 

Jesus is the Word of God made flesh.  He is the bridegroom to his bride, the people of God, the Church.  The new covenant of God with his people is through Jesus, the Word.  In our new beginning, - through our baptism, - in our relationship with Jesus - we witness the power of the God.  In faith, we trust in His Word, - we come to believe and are joined with Him, as bride is with bridegroom -  to form a new and everlasting 
covenant – a life that shall remain forever and ever.

Deacon Don Ron

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Baptismal Promises

The Baptism of the Lord
Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

Today we celebrate the transition point in the Life of Jesus.  Today marks the end of Jesus’ private life, the end of his life as carpenter, the end of his life of obscurity; living quietly among the members of his family within his community. 

It is a day celebrating a new beginning.  The beginning of Jesus’ life as preacher and teacher, the beginning of his public ministry: The beginning of his journey from Nazareth to Jerusalem, to the fulfillment of his mission.

This is also the turning point from the old to the new – the ending of old Covenant of God with the People Israel to the beginning of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ to all of God’s children.

In Isaiah God speaks, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. . .”
While in Luke the heavenly voice echoes, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The God of the Old Covenant is the God of the New Covenant.  The heavenly voice of God proclaims Jesus as His chosen one, His beloved in whom He is well pleased. 

This proclamation was important in the culture of Jesus’ time. A father needed to make a claim of paternity or else a child would be considered illegitimate: unable to inherit and partake in the life of the community.  A father’s claim of a child brought honor and standing to the child among the people: in the family and in the community.   With this claim the child’s official life began.

The baptism of Jesus should remind us of our own baptism, though most of us were probably too young to remember such an important event in our life.  For in our baptism, we too are claimed by God as his child.  While a heavenly voice does not come down - it is the Church, in the priest or deacon, who claims us in the name of Jesus Christ; recognizing us, in the family and the community that we are now a child of God, heirs of his eternal kingdom.

It is a new beginning of our life in Christ with all the honors and standings that it brings to us as members of the Body of Christ, children of God.  It also carries with it responsibilities.

As members of the Body of Christ we are a chosen people called to live as followers of The Way.  In our baptism we are called to live out our promise to reject Satan and all his empty promises.  We are called to believe in God and in Christ Jesus, the Word made Flesh, the Holy Spirit and all that His Church believes and teaches.  And in doing so, we ask for forgiveness of our sins; looking forward to the Hope of the resurrection and eternal life with God.

In our baptism, we are called to live in the love of God and the love of all our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We are called to continual conversion and a closer relationship with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  As children of God, brothers and sisters in Christ: called to love as we are loved, we find inspiration through the Spirit - to live - in thought, word and action - our baptismal promises.

As we are claimed by God in our baptism, we are commissioned and called to live as Jesus taught: To love one another, to care for one another, to treat each other with dignity and respect as we want love, care and respect.  For as one suffers and is diminished, we all suffer and are diminished.

For us, our baptism is not an event that happened in the past, but a continual way of being, - a continual beginning, - in which we live - as children of God, -
·         seeking His face, -
·         believing in His promise –
·         loving as we are loved -
·         and living in this life
-       with faith in the heavenly life to come.
     Deacon Don Ron