Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who Then is This?

September 25, 2008

Thursday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them. Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

“Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” Luke 9:9


In the beginning was Power,

Intelligent, loving, energizing.

In the beginning was the Word,

Supremely capable of mastering and molding

Whatever might come into being in the world of matter.

In the beginning there were not coldness and darkness: there was Fire.

-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Everything comes down to what you believe and what you do. We can’t hide behind Sacred Scripture without hearing and understanding it. We can’t leave it up to the Pope, the Magisterium, the bishops, the clergy, the Church or even the rest of the laity. Every question that is posed comes back to you and me. We have to decide ourselves just like the people in Galilee had to decide for themselves.

Peter faced the question: “Who do you say that I am?” Nicodemus was drawn to Jesus under the cover of darkness to find out what was going on with this itinerant preacher from Nazareth.

For these curious servants and for us, Luke and the other evangelists provide several answers.

Jesus himself tells us who he is right up front in Luke’s Gospel:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Luke 4:18-19

In response to this Nazareth Manifesto we learn that Jesus is the person in whom God’s power is present. We see that power at work in many ways (for example when Jesus provides for the needs of God’s people by feeding the 5,000).

Peter declares Jesus to be “the Messiah of God.” His personal opinion can not be masked by what the crowds or public opinion might say.

Later, Luke also shows us the suffering servant praying in Gethsemane, hoping beyond hope that the cup of salvation will pass by Jesus. Although he will free captives, he will not be able to free himself from his appointed mission. At the end, we come to realize what Jesus means when he proclaims that he is the Master to be followed, even to death, by the challenge to take up our cross and follow him. We learn that Jesus never asks us to do anything he had not already done himself.

If none of those lessons have yet taken root in our hearts and souls, we can join Jesus and his three closest friends on the mountaintop where they witness the Transfiguration. Not only do they see Jesus in all His glory, but from the mouth of God they learn that Jesus is God’s son, his Chosen One. Our one and only job is to listen to him.

How odd that it is this same question with which Herod grapples. Just like we do, Herod must answer the question in his mind about Jesus. Unlike us, Herod had the opportunity to question Jesus directly. He had the privilege of listening directly to Jesus. But Herod listened and did not hear. Faced with the chance to gain all knowledge from a close, personal encounter with the living God, Herod took the wrong turn. Even though he initially did not find any reason to condemn Jesus, Herod finally relented to in the court of public opinion to the cries of “Crucify him!”


Can we overcome the same kinds of obstacles (peer pressure, public opinion, personal ignorance and more) which lead Herod to make the wrong conclusion?

Can we come to the conclusion that Peter reaches? Can we do it without first having to overcome our own personal denials of the divinity of Christ?

Can we come to the conclusion that the “good thief” reaches? Will we return to the foot of the cross with Nicodemus and Joseph or will we flee with the Roman soldiers?

How can we banish the thoughts that get in the way of our everlasting life with Jesus and truly listen to Him? Once we hear, will we act on what we learn or will we let it go “in one ear and out the other?”

Will we let the Fire of creation, the Power of the World, and the Word of God light us up?

No comments: