His image.

Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

Today we celebrate the ineffable nature and character of God made known to us by Jesus. That is enough for us. As the psalmist desires, we too only wish to live in the house of the LORD all the days of our lives, delighting in the LORD’s perfections and meditating in his Temple.

God’s wonderful mystery will be fully revealed to us when we finally go home to Him. In the meantime, we have work to do.

St. Paul tells the Corinthians and reminds us: Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

If we can simply do that, the God of love and peace will be with us.

Mending our ways is hard work, work that requires the full-on help of God’s grace. Mending our ways takes conversion, a turning of our hearts. It takes action, a doing of the right and a rejection of the wrong, a rejection of our own sinfulness. Yes, we sin, and we sin grievously.

Each night I review my Facebook feed. I find much good there, positive words, connections, mutual support and encouragement, an ability to be with distant family and friends and a chance to keep each other informed. Unfortunately, I also see words of hate, words that come from prejudice (a pre-judging of people), words that reflect frustrations, inordinate fears, and frankly a lack of knowledge pivoted to accusation and hate. Individuals are turned into “them” and “those.” I see it when people turn away from others physically, when we see someone approaching and turn the other way. How did we forget the Gospel lesson: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. The world – all of us. Given to save, not to condemn.

If we think ourselves God’s followers, those who give God praise, glory, and honor, how can we hold any prejudice toward anyone? If we believe God, we know we are all created in His image. If we dishonor, disrespect, blame, accuse, or prejudge anyone we do so to the face of the Father. We do it to Jesus. We disrespect the Spirit. We must learn to agree, live in peace, and greet all with a holy kiss. We must mend our ways. 

Mending our ways from the overt and covert sins we engage in holds promise, not just for the moment God will be fully revealed to us, but here, today, for that is the action of kingdom builders. LORD, pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.

Reflection for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time 2014

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Who’s out
there?

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.

We are called to recognize and live in the power of God.

St. Paul was distraught because he saw the potential the Jesus offered His own people and the fact that His people, in large part, did not recognize the great gift of salvation He came to bring.

Jesus came walking out on the water. We often talk about the fact the Peter got out of the boat, and in faith came walking across the water toward Jesus. He would then falter in his faith and go sinking to the depths. It is a powerful image. We should recognize the fact that a lack of faith, a lack of recognition preceded that event. In the fourth watch of the night He went towards them, walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered, ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is You, tell me to come to You across the water.’

The disciples in the boat were rightly terrified but Jesus called out to them. Why didn’t they recognize His voice? They had been with Him for some time now. They heard Him preaching. They saw Him healing. Yet, in their moment of fear they failed to recognize the voice they had heard so often. Peter strongly challenged the voice he should have recognized. He challenged that voice to call him out onto the water.

As faithful Christians we hear the voice of Jesus at least weekly. If we read scripture and pray regularly, we hear Him daily. We should be well trained to recognize Him no matter the circumstance. Yet somehow, when we are afraid or troubled, we close our ears to His voice. We may even, like Peter, say: ‘if it is You, tell me to come to You across my troubles.’ When times are good, we may fail to recognize that He is there, providing for our good. When we have an opportunity for living out the image of Christ in us, we may forget that His image is in us and His grace is there to lead us in the right direction.

Paul was troubled because his people failed to recognize Jesus at all. As His disciples, we should be troubled if we do not recognize Him in every aspect of our lives.

Jesus calls us out onto the water, to take that big step, the leap of faith that shows how closely we are bound to Him. Let us recognize Him, His voice, and His powerful presence in every aspect of our lives and so live faithfully as His disciples. He says: ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’