Bishop Robert Barron wrote this morning about the readings from Chrism Mass — which are among my favorites — really useable and applicable anywhere throughout the life of a Christian. And it’s also the gospel associated with one of my favorite homilies from Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento. This will be a hard Triduum for them, I think.
Barron notes that Jesus allows himself to be seized and animated. In many ways — but in this gospel he is seized and animated by the Holy Spirit in the synagogue. We will remember later tonight when he allows himself to be seized and animated — right up to the cross — by the Jews, by the Romans, by my own sins and the sins of the whole world.
I desire — but with some fear — to allow myself to be seized and animated by the person of Jesus. By the Holy Spirit. By my God Himself.
What motivated Jesus — propelled him — guided him towards that seizure and animation is his family. His church of the home. His domestic church. How do we know? Because we know he approached the synagogue on the sabbath day according to his custom.
He worked his ministry into the custom that flows out of the family. His family. His town. His grocery store and gas station. Whatever Jesus’ church of the home looked like — it led him to worship. And worship sent him to ministry and service. Seizure and animation.
It’s supposed to be the same for me. For us.
Pope Francis breaks this idea of propelled outward to the community a little more in detail in his homily at Chrism Mass this morning. He opens up the willingness of Jesus to discern, listen, and live his vocation. THE vocation.
Jesus finds the passage and reads it with the proficiency of a scribe. He could have been a scribe or a doctor of the law, but he wanted to be an “evangelizer”, a street preacher, the “bearer of joyful news” for his people, the preacher whose feet are beautiful, as Isaiah says. The Preacher is always close.
This is God’s great choice: the Lord chose to be close to his people. Thirty years of hidden life! Only then did he begin his preaching. Here we see the pedagogy of the Incarnation, a pedagogy of inculturation, not only in foreign cultures but also in our own parishes, in the new culture of young people…
Closeness is more than the name of a specific virtue; it is an attitude that engages the whole person, our way of relating, our way of being attentive both to ourselves and to others… When people say of a priest, “he is close to us”, they usually mean two things. The first is that “he is always there” (as opposed to never being there: in that case, they always begin by saying, “Father, I know you are very busy…”). The other is that he has a word for everyone. “He talks to everybody”, they say, with adults and children alike, with the poor, with those who do not believe… Priests who are “close”, available, priests who are there for people, who talk to everyone… street priests.
You can read his homily from today in its entirety here at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/homilies/2018/documents/papa-francesco_20180329_omelia-crisma.html
Pope Francis goes on to identify for both clergy and for the rest of the laity the importance of closeness to each other. Intimacy in the example of Jesus. His love wasn’t blind or simply obedient. He knew each of his disciples. Each of his friends. Each of the people he encountered. Jesus never accepts a label in place of a story. He knows their stories — whether or not we know the great kerygma of His Story.
And his love for us through his availability to the Father and the Holy Spirit to be close…be intimate…know us before the creation of all things…is what leads him to seizure and animation.
I feel dizzy with your presence, Jesus. I am challenged to consider what it really is that motivates me in my baptismal priesthood towards search, seizure, animation, proclamation of the kerygma, and missionary zeal.
Help me be brave during these days, Lord. Help me remember that this is a time of passion and challenge as much as it is about triumph and victory.
Because I know how the story ends. But I desire to journey with you. To be seized alongside you. To be animated in you. To be cut to the heart by your love.
…according to my custom.