Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on January 2, 2012

Gospel reading of the day:

John 1:19-28

This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

Reflection on the gospel reading: When the priest and Levites come to John, they come with questions. They see a man who chooses to live a radical life, that is, a life with its roots in God alone, and what they see confuses them–it fills them with questions. But John cannot be anything else than what he is because what he is, is the obvious and natural thing for him to be in response to the call he has heard from God. John is authentic. John is the real deal. Because John hears his call so clearly, he knows exactly what he is not: he is neither Elijah (whose re-appearance was expected to signal the imminent arrival of the Messiah) nor a prophet like Moses. Because what John is doing is so obvious and natural for him, he knows exactly what he is: “The voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.'” John’s behavior is strange to his questioners because their lives in different ways are inauthentic. When they see someone living who he was as God created him to be, to the best of his ability, they are encountering something strange and different and they are left with questions about what they see. John’s authenticity derives from his total commitment to who he is, that is, a sign that points to Jesus, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie. John does not sing, “Jesus be the center,” and then make Jesus peripheral, one ingredient among many in his life. John’s life is about its root, a call from God to be a voice that prepares the way for Jesus. John’s life breathes Jesus at its core.

Thomas Merton in his writing often reminds us that we are all called to be saints, not performing miracles and not levitating, but called to be holy, called to be people whose center is Jesus. If we want to be radically authentic, if we want Jesus to be the root of our lives, then all that is required is that we make him the center. John’s life is testimony to us that it is not necessarily easy, but it’s simple.

Saint of the day: Basil the Great was born at Caesarea of Cappadocia in 330. He was one of ten children of St. Basil the Elder and St. Emmelia. Several of his brothers and sisters are honored among the saints. He attended school in Caesarea, as well as Constantinople and Athens, where he became acquainted with St. Gregory Nazianzen in 352. A little later, he opened a school of oratory in Caesarea and practiced law. Eventually he decided to become a monk and found a monastery in Pontus which he directed for five years. He wrote a famous monastic rule which has proved the most lasting of those in the East. After founding several other monasteries, he was ordained and, in 370, made bishop of Caesaria. In this post until his death in 379, he continued to be a man of vast learning and constant activity, genuine eloquence and immense charity. This earned for him the title of “Great” during his life and Doctor of the Church after his death. Basil was one of the giants of the early Church. He was responsible for the victory of Nicene orthodoxy over Arianism in the Byzantine East, and the denunciation of Arianism at the Council of Constantinople in 381-82 was in large measure due to his efforts. Basil fought simony, aided the victims of drought and famine, strove for a better clergy, insisted on a rigid clerical discipline, fearlessly denounced evil wherever he detected it, and excommunicated those involved in the widespread prostitution traffic in Cappadocia. He was learned, accomplished in statesmanship, a man of great personal holiness, and one of the great orators of Christianity. His feast day is January 2.

Spiritual reading The bread which you do not use is the bread of the hungry. The garment hanging in your wardrobe is the garment of one who is naked. The shoes that you do not wear are the shoes of one who is barefoot. The money you keep locked away is the money of the poor. The acts of charity you do not perform are so many injustices you commit. (Basil the Great)


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