But, I Can’t Change, What Would People Say?

How many times do we hear a person described as a flip flopper?  He was for this, but now he is for that.  Constancy is highly prized in our country today. Certainly, we should hold to our values and not be quick to change to something else when it suits us, or the pressure is on us.

But, recently we heard a political figure being accused of changing positions.  The naysayers said he was a flip flopper.  He changed positions when it was politically valuable for him to do so.  His response to the charge was well stated and something we should consider in our own lives.  He noted, “Yes, I used to be in favor of the original position, but over time I have evolved in my life so that I see things differently.”  To persist in a position that he no longer believed in would have been fool hardy.

It should be desirable to grow in our perception of the way things are and be open to looking at them in a different way.  That should be the normal progression.  Must we maintain a position from cradle to grave without ever examining it for the need to change?

To answer that question, consider this.  If we keep doing the same thing over and over and expect to see a different result, that’s one definition of insanity.  Holding on to a belief we have out grown and failing to make an appropriate change is counter productive to all that is valuable to us.

Scripture tells us that when I was a child, I thought as a child, but now that I am an adult, I should put away the ways of the child.  And, we should all be open to new ways, new perceptions, and thus, possible new solutions.

As the Lenten season approaches, let us review what we believe.  Let us take another look at those thoughts and feelings we hold so dear.  Then, decide what needs to change and pray for the courage to make those changes.  If we do, then when Lent ends and Easter arrives, it may look a lot better than it has in years.

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Baptism of the Lord, a Homily

Homily, Jan 12-13, 2013: Cycle C, Baptism of the Lord (Continuing the Mission)

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings the Christmas season to a close and begins the season of Ordinary time, at least for a few weeks.

We have an interesting Gospel today about Jesus being baptized. Personally, I’ve always been intrigued with why Jesus thought it necessary to be baptized by John?  Certainly, He was not a sinner who needed to repent like so many of the others whom John baptized.

We are reminded that Jesus shared our human nature in all things but sin.  John himself said that Jesus should be baptizing him, not he baptizing Jesus. So, why did Jesus go into the River Jordan & let John baptize him?

Perhaps we should begin by asking, “Why did all the other people respond to John’s invitation to be baptized?”

We know from other verses, that they were impressed with John’s message.  Something about it resonated deep inside of them.  They were so attracted to his message that they came forward asking, “What are we to do?” That is, “How can we be a part of what you are saying?”

After hearing John’s message of God’s love & the coming of the Kingdom, they wanted the presence of God to be restored to the world & they knew that it had to be restored in them first.

They wanted evil to be defeated & knew that first they had to defeat evil within themselves.

They wanted the Kingdom of God to begin in the here & now, and they were baptized to proclaim this Kingdom with their very lives. (John had done his job well)

Jesus saw & heard all of that. Jesus understood all of that & He agreed.  He joined them in their desires for the Kingdom of God.

He saw the pain that godlessness brought to mankind, & wanted to be united to all who sought God with all of their heart.

He saw the results of sin in the world & wanted to be united to all who would fight sin.

He knew that the Kingdom of God was beginning and that His mission was interwoven with it, that He was part of it & sought union with all who were willing to make a commitment to the Kingdom.

So, for all those reasons, Jesus came forward along with them for Baptism.

The significance of Jesus being publicly baptized was that He publicly accepted His mission, the mission that was the whole reason why He, as God, became man.

He began His public ministry with obedience to the Father and love for His people.

Jesus embraced His Mission, defeated the devil, established the Kingdom of God, & now He calls on each of us to continue His mission. He even sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us to strengthen us for the task.

In short, you could say that anytime we show love to others, we are continuing His Mission.

When we develop & use the particular gifts He has given to each of us to make the world better for others, we are continuing His Mission.

When those of us who are married put our spouses first, before ourselves, we are establishing love as the motivation of life, like He did.

When those of us who have children empty ourselves, by doing without, or working longer hours so our children can grow into the reflections of God He created them to be, we are continuing His Mission. And, that can be a tough exercise. Anyone who has lived through the teen years knows why in the wild some animals eat their young.

We should strive to be the best at whatever it is that He calls us to do in our jobs, careers, our vocations, our avocations.

And, we should make time to be kind to those whom our society ignores, such as the downtrodden, the socially unacceptable, those who are the butt of jokes at school, at work, in the community, we are continuing His Mission.

I remember as a 9-year-old watching my father wade into a group of five, 30 something year olds who were drinking & had circled around a young kid with a speech impediment, making fun of him, imitating his speech patterns, shoving & punching him.

I watched as my father cleaned 5 clocks that day and then knelt down in front of the youngster and hugged him & reassured him.  That day my dad was continuing Jesus’ mission in his own way. Though not politically correct by today’s standards, still he was defending someone who could not defend himself.

We should respond to the Grace to do something for someone else when the opportunity arises. It can be simple, like calling someone we haven’t seen in a while or more difficult like traveling to see a sick friend.

And, when we finally realize that we are not the center of the universe after all, but that Jesus is the Center, and He is our center, we are on our way to being able to continue His Mission.

Our Gospel concludes today, telling us that after Jesus was baptized, the voice of His Heavenly Father was heard to say, “You are my Beloved Son.  With you I am well pleased.”

The Father was pleased that Jesus embraced His Mission.  He is pleased when we embrace ours and thereby continue His son’s Mission.

What a gift we have been given in Jesus Christ.

Some people think that life is meaningless, without purpose.

Well, we know why we were created and how we can live meaningful lives. Don’t we?

It’s not complicated: We can make a difference in the world by uniting ourselves to the One who changed the world with His Life.

We can continue His Mission.