December 5, 2021
What is the liturgical year that Fr. Robert keeps talking about – its ending or its beginning?
It is a way for us to help focus our spiritual attention, to focus the time that we give to God, a way to deepen our sense of how God is present to us in our lives.
It is 52 weeks, each Sunday, or major feast to remember the Jesus who came, the Jesus who calls us to walk in his life, to listen to his spiritual wisdom, to begin to think and to love as God does.
A person who never gathers at church, who never reads the word of God, who never prays or reflects much about God’s presence in their lives misses out on the personal gift of Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we don’t gather in a church, where do we receive any spiritual nourishment?
The liturgical year is a revelation and a help to be a true disciple of Jesus – every week, every day even!
Did you notice that our Church ends the liturgical year and begins the new year with the same advice and warning, each from a different gospel writer: Our lives here on earth will end. Aging and accidents and sickness are the signs to which we need to pay attention. We are to be aware and vigilant that we walk God’s path during our life, so that we can stand before Jesus – trusting, at peace, and ready to embrace our destiny.
Today, the Church presents us with the gospel of Luke, presenting Jesus when he was 30 years old. He leaves his family, his carpentry work, his home town and begins to walk around the little territory of Roman Palestine.
He calls those he meets and with whom he speaks to a new spiritual awareness and beginning. St. Luke describes it as a “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” St. Luke describes Jesus in the words of the Prophet Isaiah as “one crying out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord.’” Still today, Jesus cries out: “Prepare the Way of the Lord.”
Today’s passage by Luke places Jesus in an historical context, an Emperor, a governor, Roman-appointed kings, a High Priesthood, a specific time and place.
If St. Luke were to rewrite the beginning of this chapter today, it would sound like this.
“In the second year of the Presidency of Joseph Biden when Gavin Newsom was Governor of California and Lamar Thorpe Mayor of Antioch in Contra Costa County, in the Pontificate of Francis, Bishop of Rome and Michael Barber Bishop of Oakland, when the Omicron virus travelled into California, where everywhere there were supply chain interruptions, when the Nutcracker Ballet played again in San Francisco, when the United States Supreme Courts heard challenges to a Mississippi abortion law, when teenager Ethan Crumbley shot four fellow students to death, when and where, when and where, “The word of God came..”
The point being, that the same word of God that came to John, called the Baptist, is the same word of God that comes to us today.
It is most important in this season of Advent and Christmas and Epiphany that we do not get lost in angels, shepherds, and mangers. Those stories that we will revisit and retell are not fairy tales, these were St. Luke’s way of inviting us into a reality and a mystery that is difficult to tell and to describe: “The word of God came.”
It is in the Gospel of St. John where John describes Jesus as the Word of God, a cosmic Christ, an anointed one who created the universes, beyond our capacity to imagine or understand. All that John could write was this: “The word became flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory.” As St. John ends the prologue of his gospel, he concludes: “Indeed from his fullness, all of us, received, – yes, grace in return for grace.”
The word of God became real, very personal and very close to each one of us.
How many of us have felt that fullness perhaps in the early years of love and marriage? How many have felt that in the gift of bearing and rearing children? How many of us have felt that fullness in our careers, in our successes? If we let God accompany us as we live our lives, we experience the fullness of Jesus, yes, “grace in return for grace.”
“The Word of God came.” The Word of God comes today in Antioch, California!
Like a musical rhapsody, we hear the stirring words of the Prophet Baruch, who was like a secretary-scribe for the prophet Jeremiah. He pictures the beautiful scene of the Jewish exiles returning from Babylon and rebuilding the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Baruch hears God calling the returned people “the peace of Justice, the glory of God’s worship,” a people secure in the glory of God.
The Prophet sees God “leading Israel,” (today us), in joy by the light of his glory, with his mercy and justice for company.”
Actually, it never turned out exactly as Baruch hoped it would because then and now, it takes more energy and awareness to be a people of hope who ask God to help. Is everything falling apart, or is God creating something new with our help and his inspiration? Let the Word of God come to you, come to us!
St. Paul encourages us. He describes us as his partners in living the gospel, calling us to realize that God who has begun the good work in us, will continue to complete it until the day Jesus comes.
This is St. Paul’s prayer for all of us today: “That our love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value.” So maybe, that is the question for the week: What is of value in our lives? What do we value? What does God value most?