'Staying' with Jesus transforms disciples
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
17 January 2021
This Sunday's passage has three scenes: before staying with Jesus (vv. 35-38); staying with Jesus (v. 39); after staying with Jesus (vv. 40-42). Before staying with Jesus, the characters are twice described namelessly - 'two of his disciples.'
And though John the Baptist had identified Jesus as the 'Lamb of God,' these disciples call him 'Rabbi/Teacher' - accurate as far as it goes but hardly showing any insight into who Jesus really is. But after 'staying' with Jesus, one of the disciples is named (Andrew); and in Jesus' presence another disciple is given a new name (Simon = Peter). It is almost as if entering into a deep and mutual relationship with Jesus discloses one's identity. Similarly, after staying with Jesus, Andrew is now able to identify Jesus as the 'Messiah.'
'Staying with' (living with, remaining with, dwelling in) Jesus transforms an individual. Christians come to understand both who they are and who Jesus is by entering into a personal and permanent relationship with him.
The Baptism of the Lord
10 January 2021
As John the Baptist immerses Jesus into the waters of the Jordan River we are reminded that we have a God who in Jesus the Lord immersed himself in our world, heart and mind, soul and divinity, boots and all. For all those baptised in Christ, a curious thing happens.
As Jesus fully immersed himself in our world, so we are fully immersed in Christ. But we are not spared from the world as if we are initiated into a reclusive religious sect.
We are sent out to the world knowing, because of Jesus, that we are loved by God and pleasing to him. We are sent out with faith, hope and joy to fall into the arms of the world and discover that here, too, is where Christ dwells.
Fr. Richard Leonard sj
25 December 2020 Homily for Nativity of the Lord Fr. Bill Edebohls
You probably don’t see much connection between Christmas and the Sacrament of Confirmation but I’m going to rejig some of the things I said in my homily at our recent Confirmation ceremonies which were celebrated under circumstances where there was no Mass, no Bishop and only the parents of each child being Confirmed were allowed to attend because of the Covid-19 regulations.
2020 has been a journey in which we have all experienced frustration, loss, disappointment, separation and even a little fear.
And, like our recent Confirmation, our Christmas celebrations may not be quite the celebrations, we may have wanted. No children’s nativity play, a minimal amount of singing (and what singing there is must be muffled by masks), restricted numbers and, of all things, needing a ticket to get into Mass.
However, I told the Confirmation children, and their parents, that I thought this was the most authentic and realistic Confirmation I had ever celebrated.
A celebration - yes - shorn of all its trimmings, hype, pomp and palaver – but authentic and realistic. Perhaps the same can be said of this Christmas.
And I have two reasons for making that claim.
First it’s a reminder and a warning about how we take our religious life for granted - just something that will be there when we want it, on our terms, when it’s convenient, and without sacrifice.
We might not be getting the Confirmation or the Christmas celebration we wanted but for millions of Christians around the world that is their everyday normal.
In 95 countries around the world many Christians (around 245 million of our brothers and sisters in Christ) risk severe persecution, prison, torture and death for practising their Christian faith. What we take for granted they choose to do at great personal risk, because they believe their faith is worth living and dying for – that God matters – that God’s truth matters – that his mercy and compassion matters.
While we ponder the restrictions on our worship, the restrictions on our Christmas celebrations etc, we might spare a thought for those who put their lives at risk just to get Baptised or celebrate Confirmation, or celebrate Sunday Mass, who must meet in secret to celebrate Mass and receive Communion.
Secondly, our strange journey through the Covid-19 shutdown is a journey that reflects the Christian life. Our lives are a mystery: highs and lows, ups and downs, joys and sorrows, twists and turns, never knowing what tomorrow will bring.
The Christmas story, at its heart, is not about nativity plays, carols, presents, Christmas trees or turkeys. It’s about God entering into the journey of our lives. Into the good, the bad, and the ugly. The joys and sorrows, the muck, the sin, the despair, the pleasure and the pain. God is born into all that and lives it.
In the Christ-child born of Mary. God comes down into the earthy reality of our lives so that we may be lifted up into the glory of God’s divinity. That is God’s gift to us at Christmas.
What might our gift to God be in return?
At the Confirmation I spoke about the Gift of Reverence.
The gift of reverence is not a common gift. We are probably more likely to hear people using God’s name, or Jesus name, being used as an irreverent swear word than seeing people showing deep reverence for God, reverence for God’s name, reverence for God’s teaching, reverence for God’s word and sacraments.
But until we know how to reverence God how can we reverence what God has created? How can we reverence each other, how can we reverence the environment, the world around us, how can reverence ourselves?
We believe that God created us in his own image. If that is true, then if we are to reverence God, we must reverence each other - and all that God has made. If we learn nothing else from the misery and sacrifice that Covid has bequeathed to us it is that life and all created things must be reverenced.
It is out of this reverence that we must treat each other with dignity, with kindness, with justice, with compassion. Not to show this reverence to others is to throw mud in God’s face. It is to join the forces of King Herod in the attempt to kill the Christ Child. To abuse another person, to abuse our environment, to abuse Mother Earth, is to abuse the God who created them – it is to reject the Christmas gift of the Christ Child – the Word of God who became flesh to live among us.
The Covid Pandemic, the shutdown, the restrictions, the sacrifices, have given us an opportunity. The opportunity to hold up a mirror to our nation, our institutions, our government and ourselves.
What do we see in the mirror? What have we learnt? Have we discovered our real priorities in life? Have we discovered that we can, because of the reverence we have for all people and all things, be courageous?
Courage to speak out against injustice and inequality, racism and bigotry wherever you see it.
Courage to be a voice for the downtrodden, the silent, the stranger, the refugee.
Courage to be a voice for your environment, our common home, our only home.
Courage to stand up for your faith, the teachings of Christ and the joy of his Gospel.
Today God gives you a gift. You can receive it or reject it. But this gift is not magic. God will never force you to accept or use this gift. You must choose. You must spend the rest of your lives unpacking this gift. And just like any Christmas gift, you can unwrap it and throw it away on Boxing Day – or you can play with it, enjoy it, grow with it and work with it, all the days of your life.
Today Christ is gifted to you – but you must choose what to do with that gift.