Today we need to reflect this word, word, who is Jesus Christ. The first reading that we heard from the prophet Isaiah is the same reading we hear when this word became Immanuel, God made man who put his tent among us, the word put his tent among us. This is the same word, which gospel of Mark said when he begins writing the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ.
The good news is not something just totally what Jesus did and said and preached, and it does not apply to me. Because many things that he said is a challenge to the Christians. Like if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, offering the other as well; anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. If someone ask you even give him. Or to the young man go sell all your possessions. All these words of Jesus Christ are difficult. I'm sure you also will agree and it is very difficult. You can practice it in 2023? They must be fools. So, it's not about what Jesus Christ spoke and what, but it is about the person, Jesus Christ. Either you believe him or you don't believe him.
The person, Jesus Christ. Because he is the word. And whatever he says, he says by himself, he says, I have spoken to you all that I've learned from my father I have revealed to you. I have said nothing of myself only what the Father has told me, I have told you. So, if you deny what Jesus Christ says, or the person Jesus Christ himself, then what he said is not applicable.
Now you deny the Father (God Himself). So the word of God is something alive and active. Jesus Christ has spoken and we have put ourselves as baptized Christians under this word because we became Christians and inheritors of the kingdom of God or I shall say, children of God. That is what Saint Paul says, we are given the dignity of the children of God by virtue of our baptism and at our baptism also to be children of God.
What do you ask of the church for this child, said the church. Baptism. What does baptism give you? Eternal life. Well, if you want eternal life, if you want baptism, there is a commandment you have to follow. One commandment, not the 10 commandments. But all summed up in the one commandment - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6 : 5)
The same commandment, the church says you have to teach this child to love God above all. Are you prepared to take on this duty? And we said yes. Now what have we done?
We have to accept "Christ the Word of God.", and now we have to live by that Word. And we live by the faith, we have professed in that Word. We have to live by the consent we have given of our own free will to be baptized and to live according to that promise which the church ask of us.
Are we living that?
If no, then it is adultery. Because the man and the woman come to the church, and pledge to take each other as their spouse for life. But afterwards she goes about everyone or he goes about other women. What can we call of that marriage? Is it going to subsist? Is it going to exist? No. They will walk in their own ways. They are called adulterous. Because they have deceived the covenant that they have made to one another. We have made a covenant with God, we have given our word to God, and God has given His word to us.
Now what have we done? If we are still in the dark, it's because this light has not shown on us. Isaiah prophesied about eight hundred years before Christ came. There was an area called the Galilee of the Gentiles, (Gentiles or Pagans). The Jews call them Gentiles. They don't know anything about God or you know, kind of life. They're living in the land of glum; they're covered with a shadow of glum and death and sin and everything. That is the gentile mentality. But then Isaiah said to these people, a light has shown.
Who is that light?
Jesus Christ says, I am the light of the world., This light has shown on them.
Has Christ shown on our lives. Then we are in the light. We're children of the light because by virtue of our baptism, we were given light from the Pascal candle and said, you have become a child of light, receive the light. You have become child of light. Let your lamp be lit at the coming of Christ. Even that was us when we accepted Christ.
As scripture says awake you sleeper because Christ has shown on you and Christ will shine on you. Are we still slumber of this world and on our own things? Then God cannot do anything for us. We are so rooted and cemented in our sin and that Christ and his life can do nothing. We are still in our dark.
But this dark can be dispelled by just a small spark of light. If you are in a dark room, someone strikes a match, and immediately we can see clearly where to move, where is the direction, which is the way to the entrance. And Christ says, I stand at the door and knock, you let me in, I am the light of the world your life will be illumined. You will see the way, because I am the way, the truth and the light, you'll be led to the Father, to the kingdom, but if not, you'll remain in your sin. Because you preferred the ways of darkness.
So that is how Jesus Christ challenges us with this word of God. He is the word, now, are we ready to live that word? So the situation of the people of this land, of Zebulun and Naphtali was such, they were living in the land of deep shadow, the shadow of sin and death. Sin came to the world through one man. And through sin entered the death. Death was not God's doing, it was the work of the devil. It was the envy of the devil.
And so Jesus Christ appears in the lives of the people. John was doing the mission of preparing the people to receive the word of God, that is Jesus Christ. He was to point out the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. And for that, he was put to death. And once he finished, he had finished his mission, Christ talks and the first thing he says, repent and believe the gospel, the word.
And where does he go to do his ministry? In the same land of Zebulun and Naphtali so that the word of the prophet will be fulfilled. Even 800 years later, the world has to be fulfilled. And it was fulfilled, Because Christ the light, the word had come in their midst and shown on them now has offered them to walk and behave as children of the light. And if they still prefer the darkness, God can do nothing else because you have chosen to be in the dark.
Jesus Christ, knows that his life is also short, his time is short. Herod wanted to kill him and somebody came and told him they want to finish you off, master. Jesus says, go and tell to that fox, today and tomorrow I have to work. Day-after-tomorrow may be his day. But today and tomorrow no powers on earth can touch me. Because God has given me this time. And I have to do God's work. Till that is accomplished nothing. And no one takes it off me. I lay it on my own accord.
As Christians we also have today and tomorrow. But we have to know why we have been given? To do the Will of God. But we are doing our own will. Jesus knew his life is short and he needs companions to carry on his work. He needs the church to take his word of God to the corners of the earth. And to the simple people who will receive his word.
So he goes, he calls his 12, follow me, follow me, follow me. And at his word, they were so stupid, they left their father, they left their nets, they left their boats, everything and they followed him. Imagine, didn't they even have time to reason out? The word of Jesus Christ drew them. They left everything and they followed him. And see because of their following and because of their witness of Jesus Christ, not his gospel, only because he is the gospel, the good news they came and preach the gospel to us and we are saved.
But if we think that word was for that time, not for today, it cannot be practiced, then we are the losers. Because even today in our midst, there are no more Peter and Paul and Apollos or whoever, but there is a St. Theresa, there is a St. John Paul, there is a Devasagayam. They are the people who left everything to do the will of God. Otherwise, what need they had to live as they lived, to do what they did. Only we don't have the courage to live as the word challenging us.
And so in the First Corinthians 1 Paul tells the Corinthians, I appeal to you brothers, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ makeup the differences that are among them. Paul says, I came to preach Christ the good news not to preach it in terms of philosophy. Earlier he tried also preaching eloquently and he was laughed at. You know, and this thing about one man being crucified and he was buried and he was rose again on the third day. And these Greeks who are very intelligent people, they laughed at him.
That is why when you go to preach the gospel, people ridicule you. There are times they will leave you also. I know some who were here, today they are not here because they are in some hotel with some eloquent preacher preaching the gospel. And here the stupid father repeats the same. The foolishness of the crucification cannot be preached in the wisdom of philosophy. The philosophy can rationalize that Jesus died on the cross.
Have you understood this mystery, have you believed this mystery, then only you are the witness., Even Peter could not be the witness because he ran away. When persecution came, he ran away.
Jesus wanted the disciples to be witnesses to the gospel, the good news that is Jesus. Not to preach it in terms of philosophy to convince everyone, to convince the master and the scholars.
The Word of God is for all of us who are on the way to salvation. Let us pray then that this word of God may find root in our hearts, that we may live by the word and that we may be witnesses of this word of salvation to all the people.
Fr. Benjamin D’Souza
January 22, 2023