Message: Like his first hearers, let's allow ourselves to be astonished.
It's good to be home after my four weeks in Peru. I appreciate your prayers and support. In the bulletin I put some information and pictures about the work of the Mary Bloom Center.
There was a rumor that American Airlines was giving me layover in Phoenix. But then I realized that a ticket to the Super Bowl would cost me a full year's salary. (smile)
Anyway, I am glad to be in Monroe. I came back to some good news - the completed installation of pews (with kneelers!). There was other good news, but also some difficult news - especially regarding the diagnosis of Cathy Lenac, our parish custodian. I ask your prayers for her, John and for all families facing health concerns.
I am returning to our parish at an interesting moment. St. Mary of the Valley has been chosen to participate in an evangelization effort called the Disciple Maker Index. I'll be telling you more about it, especially as we begin Lent this month.
The Scripture readings will help us understand what it means to become a disciple. A few weeks ago we heard about the Baptism of Jesus and then John pointing him out as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. To receive Jesus' mercy - as we heard last Sunday - means we have to acknowledge our sins. The time is short. Jesus says, "the kingdom of God is at hand at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel."
Acknowledging one's sin and accepting Jesus' mercy are huge. In some ways they seem like everything. Still there is more. After announcing the Gospel of mercy, Jesus immediately calls four men: Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. He asks them not only to receive his mercy, but to follow him, to become his disciples. Likewise, you and I, once we receive forgiveness, we hear these words, "Come, follow me."
Starting this Sunday we begin to see what discipleship involves. Jesus doesn't approach us like a politician seeking supporters. He doesn't lay out a platform and say, "If you agree with me, join my campaign." No, Jesus comes to us like Moses in our first reading. Like Moses Jesus speaks for God. That's what "prophet" means.
Jesus is a prophet, like Moses - but more. Much more. He not only speaks for God, he is God. To be more precise, he is God from God - the only-begotten Son of the Father. Jesus tells what he hears from the Father. According to today's Gospel, "The people were astonished at his teaching."
Now, Jesus astonished people not because of some novel teaching. In fact, most of what he taught you can find in the Old Testament. Pope Benedict asked this question: "What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought?"
"The answer," says Pope Benedict, "is very simple: God.... He has brought God." The pope then adds, "Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little."
You and I can get excited about a sports team. And why not? It's great to connect to that energy. But what would it be to connect to the Energy that made galaxies, life and consciousness?
Jesus brings us God - because he is God. In him we discover our origin and our destiny. Let's be clear. You won't discover your origin or your destiny by reading about Jesus. You have to listen to him. He speaks with authority. He wants to speak directly to your heart in prayer. He wants to speak to you through the living teaching of the Church he founded.
In the next two week we will see Jesus exercising his authority in dramatic ways. Don't miss it. It will lead into Lent - and as I mentioned, during Lent we will take part in an exciting program - Disciple Makers.
Brace yourself. Jesus brings God. Jesus is God. Like his first hearers, let's allow ourselves to be astonished. He speaks with authority. Amen.
*Full quote: "What did Jesus actually bring, if not world peace, universal prosperity, and a better world? What has he brought? The answer is very simple: God.... He has brought God, and now we know his face, now we can call upon him. Now we know the path that we human beings have to take in this world. Jesus has brought God and with God the truth about our origin and destiny: faith, hope and love. It is only because of our hardness of heart that we think this is too little. Yes indeed, God's power works quietly in this world, but it is the true and the lasting power. Again and again, God's cause seems to be in its death throes. Yet over and over again it proves to be the thing that truly endures and saves.”
--Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration
From the Archives (Fourth Sunday, Year B)
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Fr. Brad's Homilies
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Blessing the New Home of Felipe & Maria
with gratitude to Mary Bloom Center donors
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru