Here is the first installment to a brand new page in my existence.
I was asked to give a short reflection on the scriptures of the day last Sunday.
Here is what came to my attention as I progressed into these Scriptures.
Psalm 28:8-9, Zechariah 12:10-11, Psalm 63, Galatians 3:26-29 and Luke 9:18-24
This has been a huge undertaking for me and a very humbling and rewarding one as well.
June 20 2010 12th Sunday in ordinary time
When I read the readings for today a few things stood out for me.
From the very beginning of the readings I see God giving His graces or His blessings to His chosen people.
When I think about it just being alive is a blessing from God.
In the first reading Zechariah prophesied to the people of Israel that God would give a spirit of compassion and supplication.
I had to look up supplication. It’s a little bigger word than I’m used to.
Supplication according to the dictionary means to ask for something earnestly, to be seriously sincere (as in prayer).
Psalm 63 reminds me of the importance of staying in touch with God on a regular basis so that I don’t feel separated from God. It’s what I experienced when I didn’t yet have a personal relationship with God.
In the second reading Paul tells us that we are heirs to Gods graces just as the Israelis are as God’s Chosen people.
That indicates to us that we enjoy the same privileges as God’s Chosen.
It may come as a surprise to some but we weren’t included in God’s first draft pick.
It seems to me that not all who saw Jesus were convinced that he was God’s answer to salvation for His people.
They witnessed His miraculous deeds.
They were there seeing it in live action and some still didn’t get the point of who Jesus really was.
If the people who saw Jesus in the flesh couldn’t be convinced, then what chance is there for us who haven’t seen Jesus and rely on 2000 year old stories?
Our hope comes from those who saw and believed. They understood what was happening and they took the ball and ran with it (so to speak).
For those who did take Jesus seriously Zechariah’s prophecy becomes reality.
We have Christianity today because not all of the Jewish community turned away in disbelief.
We are included today because many of the first rejected God’s offer of salvation.
We have been given an incredible gift.
To be included with the Jewish community to receive God’s graces as equals makes us incredibly fortunate.
Being baptized in Christ we are changed so that we see through new eyes and love with new hearts. Everyone is Christ to us as we should be to others.
Jesus invites us to be like His disciples, to go out into the world we live in and share with everyone the good news of the gospel.
In the Gospel Jesus asks His disciples what the people in the area are thinking of Him, who they think He is.
I don’t know the answer to that question. I guess you had to be there.
Jesus told His followers how he was going to suffer and die.
He told His disciples what had to take place for the Messiah to achieve His purpose.
Then he went on to tell them that anyone who was to follow in His way, that person would have to deny their own desires and take up their own cross daily.
One form of taking up that daily cross comes as service.
That’s going to take up some of our time and it is going to take some effort on our part.
So what does it mean to be Christ to others?
And how do I put it into practice in my daily living in the world I live in?
If you recall on Holy Thursday in John’s gospel Jesus gives us an example of discipleship when He takes up the basin and the towel and washes His disciple’s feet.
Last Sunday Fr. Mark gave us a good explanation of the relevance of the feet in Jewish culture. To a Jew the feet are the dirtiest part of the body.
Jesus was showing by example what it would take to be one of His followers.
It takes humility of Spirit, a willingness to forgo being “the leader” and the determination to keep it up when the going gets rough.
2000 years later I read these scriptures and I ponder it’s implication for me.
What is Jesus asking of me?
That’s a tough question.
As I thought about that I remembered a story I heard about a boy who was walking on the beach after a big storm.
He would stop every once in a while and pick up a starfish that had washed up on shore, look at it and throw it into the water.
Sitting on the beach observing this was an elderly man.
When the boy got close the older gentleman shouted to the boy “It won’t make any difference you know.”
The boy picked up another starfish, looked at it and threw it back into the water and said “it makes a difference to this one”.
I‘m not sure what that story says to you.
But for me it reminds me that while I’m here I have an opportunity to make a difference in the life of every person I meet.
Will it be a difference for good?
While I was growing up all my needs were taken care of by someone else.
I don’t recall putting much thought into appreciating that fact.
But they were instrumental in giving me the code I was to live by in my adult years.
Let’s get back to the question of what Jesus is asking of me and of all of us?
Not everyone is called to be a Saint Paul or a mother Theresa.
But in our everyday lives we are called to be a brother or sister, a husband or wife, a parent and a neighbor to the people we encounter.
It may be something as simple as a smile or a greeting to a passerby.
When we meet another person we don’t know what that person has been through or may be going through.
It may be that this simple act of giving a smile will be what carries that person through the next part of his or her call in life.
Jesus in the gospel asks the question to the disciples; “Who do you say that I am?”
To quote Patrick Gallagher in the introduction to today’s celebration: “When Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” He is issuing a challenge to the recipient of that question.
Who am I to you?
What difference do I make a in your life?
What does it mean for you to be my disciple?
We are all gathered here today as followers of Jesus.
I believe that Jesus invites each of us to answer that question.
How would any of us answer this question?
You may have noticed that I used a lot of I and me statements.
I didn’t do that in a self centered way.
It’s because I can’t speak for anyone but myself.
For each of us there will be a slightly different answer, simply because we are created differently.
Fr. Bill has been telling us that we are all part of the body of Christ.
Just as each part of the body has a different purpose so to we‘ve been created for our very own purpose.
It isn’t easy being a Christian in today’s world.
Jesus told His disciples that and we’re reminded of it when we read scripture.
The challenge is before us.
If I ask the question; “who do you say that I am?”
What will I hear in response?
I wonder if I even want to ask that question sometimes.
The answer might not reflect a very Christ like living on my part.
What sort of response would you hear if you ask it?