3rd Sunday of Advent (B) December 17, 2017
Being up here isn’t as easy as it looks. On top of that, today’s Gospel from John is pretty much the same one as last week from Mark. It’s an 80% repeat of the story of John (Baptist).
I can’t think of much more about that, so I’m switching to the first reading.
They are the familiar lines from the prophet Isaiah. And they are the first words of Jesus in his public ministry. Remember he went to the synagogue and they invited him to proclaim the reading; he opened up the prophet Isaiah and read:
The Spirit of the Lord God has fallen upon me…because God has chosen me.
He sends me to bring good news to those in need…to heal the brokenhearted…
to set free all those in bondage…
and to announce that you have God’s favor!
For Jesus, the waiting was over — his public ministry had begun.
It’s no surprise to us that Jesus feels called, and chosen — that he has a mission. We’ve learned that; we can experience it in the Gospels.
The difficulty is that Jesus comes among us, not as the ‘only one’ chosen by God, but to model that to us. That reading pertains to us. Being chosen…is us!
I will grant you that Jesus looks unique and would seem to have a lot more going for him than you and I. He dedicated his whole life to his mission—all day—24/7. And we have jobs, families, school, commitments.
So we think our SPIRITUAL MISSION—WHAT WE ARE CHOSEN FOR—must be in addition to those things.
When we look at it that way, we have our ‘real’ life, and we add on a ‘religious or Spiritual’ life. Or if we are not very religious or spiritual, we just have our REAL LIFE.
That never works. What we have to understand is that our entire life IS our MISSION…
And you have been chosen by God to accomplish it.
The problem doesn’t arise from whether we ARE chosen and HAVE a mission.
The real question is: DO I KNOW IT? DO I FEEL IT? DO I FEEL CHOSEN????
If we are honest, the usual answer for many of us is often: NO, NOT VERY MUCH.
Your life can be good, in fact VERY GOOD, but if it is not a mission, and you don’t feel chosen to live it—then it will never really be all it is meant to be.
And many among us have good reason to be in crisis or serious difficulties, or we have an illness. At those times, it is very hard to feel chosen…
In instances of personal difficulty, our mission is not to think that God has given you this, but that the mission is ‘for you—and for us who help you’—to see God working in your life.
We have our families, our jobs, our schools, our communities, our commitments, our friends, but often times NOT MUCH ENERGY. We are tired or exhausted on so many levels.
Look what happens in our marriage, or our families, or our friendships if we don’t feel chosen by the other, if we don’t have a mission together (that might not be the words you would choose to explain it, but you know what I mean).
What is our relationship to God, or to life…
…if we just think we were inadvertently plopped here and life often times is GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS (even GOOD motions)?
We try to be good people, to express our love, to fix our mistakes, to make a good living. All that is good — BUT IT SHOULD NOT BE GOOD ENOUGH!
This Thursday on the steps of the capital will be a memorial for all the homeless people who died on the streets this past year. The number is 35; one of them, a baby. Dozens of our parishioners will be present, and then move from there to help host a Christmas party for over 200 homeless who are serviced by Joppa, which is the organization we are partnering with. St. Boniface has organized 35 of our members to form circles of friends to regularly visit those who have found housing.
Joppa is run by only six people who give their entire time to reaching out. Just watching them…
…the ministry is overwhelming and exhausting.
When we were beginning this ministry this year, I said to one of the young women of Joppa,
“I don’t know how you can do all of this.”
She said: “I LOOKED INTO THEIR EYES AND I KNEW AT THAT MOMENT, THIS IS WHY GOD PUT ME HERE…”
She and others like her surely win the award on the meaning of our Advent theme:
BE HOPE, GIVE HOPE, DON’T LOSE HOPE!
At that moment she became Isaiah the Prophet, she became the Christ. She used different words, but if you listened closely you could hear…
The Spirit of God has fallen upon me….for he has chosen me….to bring good news—to heal the brokenhearted…to free those who are held in bondage.
She saw her underlying mission (HOPE)
That is her mission! She had discovered it.
Buy it is not ours. However, don’t we wish we could tap such energy, such drive, such commitment?
Knowing our mission can’t be found out only by plowing ahead at 100 mph and hoping to discover it — where life is calling you. This Advent season challenges us to slow down enough to pay attention…
Don’t look at the world and begin to lose hope!
Because the one who can energize us is coming our way. Be ready because Jesus is coming to us…the Hope for the World will visit us!
Remember the words of Isaiah the prophet, which Jesus made his own:
The Spirit of the Lord God has come upon us—
Because he has chosen us—
To bring ‘Good News’