Don’t worry, be happy!
John the Baptist said to his contemporaries: ‘There stands among you one whom you know not.’ He was referring to Jesus, who was present among the people unbeknown to them. Jesus is present among us as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. [Pause]
Lord Jesus, you bring liberty to captives. Lord, have mercy.
You bring good news to the poor. Christ, have mercy.
You bind up hearts that are broken. Lord, have mercy.
Eternal God, you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for the coming of your Son. Grant us the wisdom to see your purpose and openness to hear your will that we, too, may prepare the way for Christ who is coming in power and glory to establish the Kingdom of peace and justice, and who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.
The Pink candle is now lit.
Don’t worry, be happy!
In the Readings for this Sunday, there is a distinct theme of ‘Rejoicing’ that the Promised One, the Messiah will come to God’s people.
The Prophet Isaiah spelt out the signs that would distinguish the Messiah. ‘When he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unlock the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will shout and sing’. (Isaiah 35:5-6) A time of rejoicing will begin! However, the Promised One will be a servant, a prince of peace, and one who embodies true humility, and is great in the eyes of God. He will not issue in a politically motivated uprising against the foreign domination He will through His Body the Church continue the Mission entrusted to Him by His Father, and then to us at Pentecost…..’Go, and tell my people that I love them….Go, and show them that I love them; gather them into one, and bring them back to me….’
Let’s be very mindful, that Isaiah and his community, were almost jumping out of their skins at the prospect that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, will at some future time, turn the known world of disorder into an unusual order…where peace was unimaginable…..look at the wonderful outcry of this……In the stanzas of the reading, through wonderful poetic ways, the message becomes clear. Can you imagine beautiful flowers blooming in the desert? The eyes of the blind being opened? The lame jumping like a deer? And so on. This reading is God’s Word for all times and seasons!
It is just as important and vital now, as it was then. Our world thrives on bad news! These days the media have never had it so good in being able to upset lots of people and bring some of the world’s horrors into our Lounge Room and Kitchens! Good news from time to time does get aired, but it always seems like a Post Script. Facebook is full of the Prophets of doom, and often they are the very ones that criticize the humble Ministry of our Pope Francis! Often these critics resort to proclaiming that we should return to the good old days……what absolute rubbish! The good days are now! It is futile to live in the past, nor steer the church from the rear vision mirror, like some Leaders and people would have us do. The Prophet Isaiah faced the ‘here and now’ in his time with hope and rejoicing, and we too need to address the ‘here and now’ in a similar way.
In the second reading, James and his community are putting the brakes on the early church’s thinking that the second coming of Jesus was just around the corner. We need to be patient to not only wait for Jesus to come in glory, but to rejoice in the Christ who sits next to us in the train; walks with us in the shopping centre, prays with us at the community Sunday Eucharist, sits at table with us in our own home!
The Gospel of today, is the icing on top of the cake! Jesus, the human face of the father, embodies all that Isaiah was looking forward to, and in fact will be rejected by many for being too ordinary; a man like us in all things but sin, the son of a carpenter! Jesus, the Prophet par excellence, the suffering servant of Isaiah, the enlivened one through the spirit, who put new life into our old bones as we see in Ezekiel, born from the Anawim…..the faithful few, who longed for the accomplishments of God to happen anew. The greatness of Jesus, is manifested in his loving outreach to all, as true servant of God’s people.
Let us briefly look at the people whom the world calls great. Many of them may be great, by any standards, but some may appear to have feet of clay, when compared to the standards of greatness proposed by Jesus. It takes true greatness to be able to forgive, to admit that I am wrong, to turn to another and ask for help. It takes true greatness to minister with great love those who, because of mental disability, or pride, are unable to say ‘thanks’. These angels of charity are the greatest people on earth.
If you were to write your own obituary notice, what are the things in your life that could deserve the term great, in that their value is eternal, and will continue long after your departure from this earth? Look again at the little people in your life, those who carry out the day-to-day humdrum services that keep life going all around you. Can you find any greatness among them? Begin with those closest to you, the ones you are more inclined to take for granted. It was Jesus who said that the prophet is never accepted in his own home. Jesus was grateful for what John the Baptist had done in preparing the way; he even said it while John was alive. I often wonder when I listen to Eulogies at Funerals, if the deceased person had ever heard in their lifetime the wonderful things that are said at their Funeral Liturgy? Let us never put off speaking words of thanksgiving, praise or contrition to someone till tomorrow, because that tomorrow may never come! The following popular Song, by Anne Murray, from her Album, Let’s keep it that way, sets out in a very real and down to earth way the nuts and bolts of Our Lord’s message!
THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE OF SALVATION
I cried a tear, YOU wiped it dry.
I was confused, YOU cleared my mind.
I sold my soul; YOU bought it back for me,
And held me up, and gave me dignity.
SOMEHOW YOU NEEDED ME.
You gave me strength to stand alone again to face the world out on my own again, you put me high upon a pedestal so high that I could almost see eternity, YOU NEEDED ME, YOU NEEDED ME.
And I can’t believe it’s you, I can’t believe its true, I needed you, and you were there, And I’ll never leave, why should I leave, I’d be a fool. ‘Cause I’ve finally found someone who really cares.
You held my hand when it was cold, when I was lost you took me home; you gave me hope, when I was at the end. And turned my lies back into truth again, you even called me friend.
Prayer before Holy Communion
We give thanks to the God of patience, for His Christ. He came once to give strength to those grown weak; he comes now to join us on our way through life, to give back strength and joy to the down-hearted. He will come again, to our joy, to open the gates of the heavenly city. Amen
Fr Kevin Walsh
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