Over these past six or seven weeks, we have been listening to that sermon we call the Sermon on the Mount, the part of the Gospel where Jesus really sets forth his values of what he expects of his followers -- and a good part of this sermon has been a challenge for us to go beyond, to go deeper.
The Peace Pulpit
A few weeks ago, you remember we started this series of gospel lessons with Jesus calling together his first disciples and then, with them, beginning to proclaim his message, the good news, “The reign of God is at hand.”
Then he goes on to tell them, “You must change your lives.”
If the reign of God is to happen in my life, I have to begin to live differently. That’s what Jesus was telling his disciples and for the last few Sundays, Jesus has been giving us more specific direction on how we must change our lives.
The following homily was given by Bishop Gumbleton Feb.6. Because of the snow storms in the Midwest we are posting two of the bishop's homilies this week.
Again, to remind us of how today's Gospel lesson fits in with what has been happening in the Gospels we've been hearing the preceding Sundays, I remind you that Jesus has just called his first disciples, and he has told them that they were to be the ones that were to go out and spread the Good News everywhere.
The following homily was given by Bishop Gumbleton on January 30, because of the many snow storms it was delayed until posting today.
I think we understand today’s lessons, can understand them best of all, if we remember the context from which today’s gospel especially is being proclaimed.
Today, as we heard at the beginning, is the fourth Sunday in ordinary time, and the first Sunday of this, what we call ordinary time, we celebrated the baptism of Jesus, and Jesus himself received his call from God to proclaim the good news, but to do it in a special way, through gentleness and love, and in that way to bring justice to all of the nations.
It’s very appropriate that we are celebrating a baptism today as part of our Liturgy of the Word because in the baptismal ceremony, as you well remember I’m sure, there is the part where the person being baptized is given a candle, lighted, and is exhorted to receive this candle as the light of Christ.
I think as we hear the Gospel today, we’re not surprised, in a way, that John objects to Jesus when Jesus comes to John for baptism -- because John has the idea that he had been sent to prepare the way for the one who was to come.
And he thought that he recognized in Jesus that special one, and so he wanted to say to Jesus: “No, I shouldn’t baptize you. You’re the one who is to come, the special, chosen one of God. You should baptize me.”
Once more these lessons that we hear as we approach the end of the Christmas season are lessons that bring home to us very powerfully the truth we proclaim in the Eucharistic prayer, the part where we say:
“Yes, God, you are holy, you are kind to us and to all. For this we thank you. We thank you above all for your son, Jesus. You sent him into this world because people had turned away from you and no longer loved one another. Jesus opened our eyes and our hearts to understand that we are brothers and sisters, and that you are the one God of us all.”
We begin today, the last and fourth week of the season of Advent, the season in which we look forward to the celebration of the birth of Jesus. As we have been preparing throughout this season, we now want to put special attention on what we are preparing for. The readings if we listen to them carefully tell us about something that is astounding and yet I think that in many ways we have come to take it for granted. In fact, we have let many other things distract us from this message, an astounding message from God that God is coming in to our midst, the eternal God, all powerful, all loving. This God is going to become part of human history. Breaking into our history, becoming part of us.
When I began to reflect on this Gospel lesson that we hear today, I immediately began to think of the first lesson in relationship to it. You can tell they’re very closely related.
When we hear this message today I hope that first of all and most of all we hear the words of John: "The reign of God is at hand."
This is what we will be celebrating when we celebrate the feast of Christmas. We remind ourselves and celebrate that the Son of God has come into human history and, from that point, the reign of God is ready to break forth in its fullness. It's at hand.