Thursday, June 23, 2016

“Christ in You: The Hope of Glory”

“Christ in You: The Hope of Glory”
Friday, June 24,  2016
Feast of the Birth of John the Baptizer.
Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 139:1-15; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-80

What Isaiah 49:1-6 says of the prophet, the Scripture also says of John the Baptizer” “The LORD called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me.” Before John was conceived the angel Gabriel told him, “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John.”

God said Isaiah would be “my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” And the angel said of John, “He will be great in the sight of the Lord… even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:13-17).

Don’t we wish God would say this of someone today? Someone who would be raised up to renew the Church, bring back all the lapsed Catholics, and shine as a “light to the nations,” to bring salvation “to the ends of the earth”?

That person is, in fact, alive on earth today: a human being, doing just what God promised. It is Jesus Christ in his human body, speaking human words today that are divine, doing human things today that are divine, achieving human results today that are divine. It is Jesus alive, present and active in his risen body on earth, the Church. It is Jesus present in you.

The name “John” comes from the Hebrew name Yochanan, meaning “Yahweh is gracious.” We begin almost every Mass recalling “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” given to each and all of us. That “grace” is the “favor of sharing in the divine life of God.” We have “become Christ.” Jesus is continuing to save the world by acting with, in and through us. The Responsorial (Psalm 139) should echo constantly in our hearts: “I praise you for I am wonderfully made” — and remade by dying and rising with Christ in Baptism.

In Acts 13:22-26 Paul quotes John saying to those who were overawed by him, “I am not the one you imagine me to be. He is coming after me, and I am not fit to undo his sandal.” Jesus said, “among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptizer; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). What we are by grace is more than anything people perceived in John (although he also was “in the kingdom” by the grace not yet revealed). We are chosen to “bear fruit” like branches on a vine. And the vine is Jesus himself (John 15:1-16). The life and power of Jesus himself is active in us.

But we must do our part. Luke 1: 57-80 tells us John “lived out in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly to Israel.” John was not a man “in soft robes.” Those are “in royal palaces.” He came as a prophet. His lifestyle made his message credible. If we want to minister effectively as priests we have to “raise eyebrows” as prophets by our lifestyle.

Initiative: Give God’s life: Be inspired to witness as a prophet and bear fruit as a priest.

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