CACINA

Homily for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time , Year A 2014

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, ethics, inspirational, religion by Fr. Ron Stephens on January 12, 2014

Homily for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time , Year A  2014

[Collect all of Bishop Ron’s homilies for Year A from the last cycle at Amazon. com by ordering “Teaching the Church Year”.]

The words of John the Baptist which we have been hearing for a number of weeks, both in Advent and with the Baptism of the Lord are heard again as we begin the cycle of readings we refer to as Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time is an odd translation of the Latin which just indicates that it is a time between the great feasts of Christmas and Easter. It occurs right after Christmas, stopping at Lent, and picking up again after the Easter celebrations. So, Ordinary Time in the church calendar is divided into two parts.

In general, Ordinary time focuses on the teachings and the miracles of Jesus, the many things Jesus did in those three years leading up to his Passion and Death. So, we begin today in the Gospel with John’s testifying that Jesus was the Son of God, and the Old Testament reading is Isaiah’s prophecy of what this Son go God, this  Messiah, would be like, with the emphasis on his being a “servant”.

The theme today is that Jesus is God, but a God who is a servant. The reading from St. Paul today which is simply the salutation of a letter, and seems a strange few lines to have us listen to, is appropriate simply because it shows us that from the first, since Paul was the earliest writer, that Jesus was seen as Lord and God. That is really all it says, because it is simply the start or beginning of the letter. ‘This is Paul – an apostle writing to you, the church at Corinth, and to all those who call on Jesus as Lord. May God the father and Jesus Christ bring you grace.’ That pretty well summarizes our reading today from Paul. We will pick up the body of this letter in the next number of weeks. But, for the moment we can see that from earliest times Jesus was seen as God.

Going back to the reading from Isaiah, Isaiah speaks the word of God: God says “It is not enough that you shall play the role of servant in restoring the kingdom, but I will make you a light to all the nations so that every person shall be saved.” This is the prophetic role of the Messiah. God becomes a servant in order to save all mankind, not just the Jews.

Our responsorial psalm today echoes the reply of the servant, the Son, who comes only to do the will of the Father. “Here I am Lord, I have come to do your will.” This is Jesus, then, the one whom John the Baptist today recognizes. Note that Jesus is the lamb of God, He is not here the shepherd. In the relationship of Father and Son, Jesus is the lamb, the Father is the shepherd, the leader. The lambs follow. And this lamb, this Savior, this servant, this Jesus is able to take away the sins of the world. That is his purpose in coming, the reason he was sent by the Father. John also recognizes the divinity of Christ – “he was before me” and needed to be revealed. John then testifies that he himself is only a messenger, sent to reveal this truth. He tells his followers how he saw the Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove and remain there. His baptism will be different from Jesus’ because Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. And John ends his speech with the declaration: “…this is the Son of God.”

This declaration then sets us up for Ordinary Time. We know that Jesus is a servant come to take away our sins, and that he is the Son of God, and that he will offer a new kind of baptism. In the next weeks we see how he goes about doing just that.

A good many Protestant churches today seem to say that each of us has to see Jesus as our own personal Savior. This is never indicated in the Bible. Even in the Isaiah reading today we learn that Jesus came for all – to bring salvation to the ends of the earth. When Paul writes to the church at Corinth, he does more than that by including also “those who are called to be saints”, together with all who call on Jesus. And he is the lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  He is not just my personal Savior, he is everyone’s Savior. He came for us all, he died for us all.  That is why i always place such a stress on communal worship. We are called not to just a personal relationship with Jesus but with a communal relationship, one that attempts to reveal Christ to more and more people.

And how do we do this? We do this first by our communal worship.  It is too easy in this day and age to skip our communal service, our Mass. Our coming together has to grow to be more important to you than the rest of your week, simply because we need each other, we are strengthened by each other and we spread the word by our communal actions. I wish there could be a moratorium on Sunday morning practices, games, hobbies and rehearsals. What I hope for you is that when you have to miss Mass, you really do miss it. We are less without you, and you feel less without us. I think the Church has been taking a wrong approach is making missing Mass a sin. We have to come to Mass because we really want to come. Not just to “get something out of it” but to see it as our one hour communal weekly worship of God, to participate in Jesus’ sacrifice, to become one with the other members of the congregation. If we really felt all this, we would never want to miss. And please don’t think of this as a guilt trip. It is more an attitude that I hope we can develop more and more here.

Secondly, once we have come together, become one in worship, we become visible signs to the rest of the world by what we do. We spread the word of God, the kingdom of God but he things we are, a community, and the things we do – the acts of charity, the care we show others.  That is the real way we spread God’s kingdom, the way we become lambs of God, the way we help in taking away the sins of the world.

This is great news! The Baptist shows the way today and he proclaims the Good News for all of us to hear.

 

Bishop Ron Stephens, Auxiliary Bishop of Holy Trinity Diocese

Of the Catholic Apostolic Church in North America (CACINA)

Pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Warrenton, VA

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