Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 19, 2020
Sr Phyllis Jaszkowiak
The Gospel today tells us to get to know Christ. How do we come to know Christ? God usually gives us a good start. We become ready to follow Jesus no matter what. Then a dry period sets in to force us to grow downward to the deep faith level, rather than stay at the feeling level. This is when we need to make the effort to watch for Jesus in our everyday lives.
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist testifies that he saw the Spirit descending like a dove on Jesus when he baptized him. So he testified that he now knows this is the one who was sent and he is the Son of God. In Luke’s gospel, John, who is in prison, still has some questions about Jesus. So he sends a disciple to ask if Jesus is the one. Jesus replies, “Tell John, the deaf hear, the lame are cured, the lepers are cleansed, and the poor have the Word of God preached to them.”
The woman at the well, in John’s Gospel, after talking with Jesus, returns to her village with the message, “I have seen the Messiah.” And many from her village come out to meet Jesus. There are many stories of curing people in all the Gospels. Jesus looks with compassion and acts out of this compassion to heal and to give life. These stories show us the path from feeling to deep faith in the God within us.
In Marks Gospel, a young man comes to Jesus to ask what he must do to gain eternal life. “Jesus looks at him with love and says, ‘One thing is necessary, sell what you have and give to the poor, then come follow me.’” The young man couldn’t quite do it. So he left and Jesus was sad for him. He didn’t quite make the journey from feeling to deep faith.
As Sr. Barbara Reid says, “In today’s Gospel, Jesus bathes his followers with the Holy Spirit, enabling us to live as he did, forgiving everyone we can. For Jesus embodies a way of life that frees people from all sinfulness that holds them bound.”
As Jim Wallis recently wrote, “This is about Jesus, and not just politics, and I am convinced that going back to Jesus is the best way forward for Christians in our bitterly divided country. … The two words I consistently heard on this tour were encouragement and hope. People often said they came to the event feeling discouraged and hopeless – and left feeling inspired and hopeful. That’s what a focus on Jesus can do for us, even in the direst times.”
As M. Daniel Carrol R. says, “In a culture where winning is everything, where people we disagree with are vilified, and where so many seek attention in the media, the Servant [Jesus] shows us another way. Honor before God … comes in serving the world. This upside-down way of the Servant is not easy. We must trust God even when we face opposition.” We remember Martin Luther King Jr. this weekend, a man of deep faith who knew that serving others was most important. Let us remember his deep faith and his courage as he faced opposition.
Meeting God is a challenge calling us to change. We change by forgiving past hurts, by loving someone more deeply, by going out to serve others, by working for peace and justice, by finding God in nature and finding God in other people. All of these experiences that happen to us are a call to change, to become more loving, more responsible for our actions, and to become more of the person God created us to be, to be more Christ-like.
There is a story of a woman in an RCIA program in Tacoma, WA. They were learning and discussing ‘seeing Christ in every person’. She, being a city bus driver, decided she would consciously greet all the passengers who boarded the bus as if they were Christ. So she began. When a drunk boarded the bus she greeted him warmly and cheerfully. She said to herself, “Jesus, you really disguised yourself this time. I hardly recognized you.” At first there was no change. Then, after a few weeks, people began to greet her back. Soon they began to greet each other and talk to each other. Christ talking to Christ.
The way of Jesus may not be easy, but since Jesus is with us always, guiding us, transforming us, calling us to change, we can do it. We just need to be reflective and prayerful, let Scripture inform us of who Jesus really is, meet Jesus in our everyday lives, meet Jesus in all the people we encounter, and follow Jesus. So, for the rest of today, and the rest of the week, greet everyone you meet as if they were Christ. See what change happens to them and to you.