Just like anyone else – I did a lot of thinking and praying about the events of last week.
And I did this through the lens of my relationship with Jesus – and particularly through the lens of the story of Jesus’ Baptism – which we celebrated last weekend. I believe I am not only called – but compelled – to do this – because just like those 3 Wise Guys from the week before that – once I have encountered Jesus – once I have been touched, healed, reconciled, called, once I have come to understand my own dignity and loveliness in His Eyes and in the eyes of His Father – and once I have surrendered to the reality that I have been ransomed and redeemed by Him to someday get me to God — I cannot go back to my old life. I must continue by another way…and so Jesus and my relationship with Him is what frames (or should frame) all that I say, think and do.
And that will be a constant battle and challenge – because the forces of the world, the flesh, and the devil will spend their time throughout my life trying to convince me that this is wrong. Flowery baloney. Mindless ridiculousness. Beliefs for only simple-minded people. People who don’t know any better. People who don’t know the ways of the world.
And well…all of that makes the events of this week look kind of different.
Knowing that God has already won – makes it a lot easier to just jump in and accompany the poor. Forget the politics. Just go do it. Nothing really belongs to us – everything originally and finally belongs to God and is on loan to us – so give it away and walk with someone else.
Knowing that God has already won does not stop me from acting with justice – but it examples clearly that I must also act with mercy. So seriously. Surrender it. Let it go. Stop stirring the pot. Whatever the pot is. No payback or retribution matters in this world – only authentic reconciliation and forgiveness. Work on that. If I cannot reconcile with the other person because they refuse – after I have asked – I must at least forgive.
It doesn’t mean we do nothing. But it does mean the something we do should be intentional. And somehow, bigger than the world we live in today. Because the world we live in tomorrow and for eternity is the one I care about.
I wasn’t online a lot of last Wednesday – so I didn’t even know what had happened until after it happened. And so I didn’t watch a lot of news until I got home that night. I to be clear, I bounced between 3 stations – one on each side of the “spectrum” and one sort of in the middle (what is the middle these days anyway…) trying to get just the basic thread of what went down. So with the understanding that I was hearing aftershock comments and reports – what I did notice across the board is that I heard an awful lot of the expression “temple of democracy.”
And for someone looking through the lens of a friendship with Jesus – that should sound a little weird.
It should sound weird because regardless of faith community — temples are for gods.
It should sound weird because democracy is not a god. It’s a good thing – but not a god.
It should sound weird because democracy is of the world. It is not our final destination.
The line that stands out to me in the gospel this week – as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord – is what Jesus sees as He comes out of the water:
“…he saw the heavens being torn open…”
The God of the universe tore open the heavens to get to me.
He loves His Son just as He loves me. Just as I am. Not the me that will someday have my life together. he loves me right now and today. And loved me that much before the world began.
He’s adopted me through baptism.
That makes me an actual adopted sister of Jesus.
And an adopted daughter of God.
And my favorite line in any Eucharistic prayer in the Roman Missal:
“…that we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life…”
Co. Heirs. Eternal. Life. For REAL!
Let’s act like we know who we are. And Whose we are.
That’s how we look at this past week. And this week. And the week ahead.
I had a hard time writing last week. I was having trouble leaving the events of last week without a sort of snoddy “that’s not very baptism-of-the-Lord, people,” or using the baptism of the Lord to call us to rise up and do something.
Because both would have been misguided.
[Sidebar: I did love my pastor’s homily – it was very brave – and I agree with him about the significant order of Relationship – Identity – and Mission. You can check out his homily below or here.]
But I figured out what I missing…just in time for this week – and it was: the Gospel this week.
I witnessed a lot of violence this week. Personally. Locally. And on the large scale. But I felt most compelled to do something about the violence that was the very closest to me. And I wondered what would happen if we looked more closely at the violence we cause. The violence we perpetuate. The violence we assist in committing by action or by words or by silence.
And not only the obvious physical violence.
Things feel big because we look outward and not inward. We feel helpless because we notice the big stuff first. The loudest stuff. The stuff that everyone notices — while secretly hoping no one notices the little stuff. Our little stuff. The stuff in our own lives. What can I do about reordering my little corner? What do I know to be true about my RELATIONSHIP with God? What do I know to be true about my IDENTITY? And what do I know to be true about my MISSION?
Things from God are always unitive. Things from elsewhere are always divisive.
Just like the Hunger Games — we must remember who the real enemy is.
You’ll have to trust me that last week’s daily readings were full of healings – Mark is big on miracles – especially healing miracles – but that was to nod to what I need to be doing.
Healing. And accompaniment.
For myself. And others.
And the only way to do that is to come to Jesus.
And the best way for someone to get to Jesus is when someone goes with him/her.
So – I need to be walking with people to get them to Jesus – He Who brings healing.
And trusting that those who walk with me will get me to Jesus.
And that folks – is exactly what we see this week.
Eli walks with Samuel.
Paul teaches us to walk with each other. And encourages me that everything I do with my body speaks about who I am, Whose I am, and who Jesus is in my life.
John the Baptist walks with his disciples and hands them off (BEHOLD!) to Jesus at just the right time.
Andrew walks Peter to Jesus.
It’s no surprise these readings are often used to speak about vocations to priesthood or religious life – but let’s not forget that each of us has a particular and identical vocation to holiness and mission. And this weekend – 1 month before Lent — is a self-check:
How am I doing on growing in holiness?
What do I spend my time, energy, effort, and resources on?
What am I watching?
What am I reading?
What am I scrolling?
How am I doing on mission?
How many people have I walked to Jesus?
And important to remember: in order to accompany someone to the Lord – I first must really know Him myself.
That’s the lens I will be looking through this week.
Let’s pray for authentic accompaniment.
And with great confidence — know that Jesus is here.
Let’s pray hard this week, y’all. You know what for. And if you don’t. Ask Holy Spirit to show you.
Also — fasten your seat belts for next weekend’s readings — and it’s the first “Sunday of the Word of God.”