Stand up.

“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not be afraid”

Welcome as we once again enter the Ordinary season of the year. This is a time of growth, a time to engage in the work of standing up as God’s faithful people. As we re-enter this season, we see a very pointed story. It is the story of those who stand up, struggle, persevere, and have victory.

We start with Jeremiah. Jeremiah, sometimes called the weeping prophet for very good reason. He did not want the job, the ministry of prophet. He resisted and argued with God, providing every excuse for not doing that work. God won. Jeremiah did the right thing. He submitted himself.

Jeremiah had no happy message. Sometimes it is said that Jonah was the joyous prophet, only reinforcing the good news of God while in Israel. Jeremiah spoke only of doom – of condemnation. He spoke against greed and in opposition to false prophets. For those strong words he was beaten and imprisoned, he was laughed at and mocked. The people shut their ears to God’s truth and their accountability before God. In the end he tried peaching from exile, again to no affect.

For Jeremiah, it was not the words nor even the suffering. His mission was to stand up to wrong, to speak truth to un-listening ears, so that God’s truth would be known. God does not count success as the mark of our faith, but rather our willingness to stand up, even in the midst of the failure and to still offer the message of hope – the intervention of God in the world. That message resounds with all who are abandoned, oppressed, and outcast, who know no justice. Sin will not win.

In Psalm 69 we hear David exclaim: Because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me. In other words, he takes it standing up for God above all. David relies on God rather than the world and personally feels every sin committed against God.

Paul reminds us that sin and death are not our destiny, the intervention of God in His Son Jesus has stood us back up.

Being lifted up, relying on God, speaking the truth, having zeal for God’s way are all markers of one who stands up. We will not be able to hide any shrinking back. So, stand today, stand always, stay strong and be acknowledged before the Father.

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

chase the light

What does it mean
to recognize the light?

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing

St. John the Baptist was now in prison. Jesus, fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah, withdraws to Capernaum by the Sea – the land of the gentiles. Isaiah says of the people there, symbolizing all the gentiles: the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light.

St. John Chrysostom points out two important facts – these facts of light and darkness are not the physical properties of light and darkness – but rather spiritual light and darkness. Further, the gentiles “sat in darkness.” In other words they didn’t “walk in darkness,” but sat – they were resigned to the fact that they had no hope of being saved. They had given up. They couldn’t even put a step forward to walk because they did not know the way to go. They sat, overtaken by the darkness.

Jesus came to them to show them the light. He was the Light come into the world. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When Jesus began teaching in Capernaum, the crowds immediately recognized that there was something different about Him. It was the way He spoke. They were amazed because He taught them as one who had authority. They recognized the fact that He could open their eyes and their hearts to all God wanted of them. He was the one who could pull them out of darkness and into the light. He was the One who could pull them up from their sitting in darkness. Now they could walk in the light. And walk they did, the crowds grew and grew as they followed Him. They were filled with joy for being saved.

In the waters of regeneration we received the Light of the world. We were pulled up into the light so that we would never have to sit in darkness despairing that there is nothing for us but death. We accepted Him and were received into life everlasting. As we grew and studied we learned more about Him. While we may have fallen at times, we have listened to His call, have repented, and have come back to Him. We have, as we look at the trajectory of our lives, remained faithful to the Light we recognized and received into ourselves.

Recognizing the Light is exactly that – seeing that there is more to life than the place we sit. We acknowledge that there is only one way to go, one way to walk. That way is to grasp the hand of the One who speaks with authority, to stand and walk with Jesus, God who came to earth to pull us up on our feet and who shows us the way we must go each day.