10 January 2013

Do you preach the word?

Call me a bit over sensitive, but I had one of those experiences today that left me a bit reflective and bemused.  I was paying at a local thrift store here in Midland and was minding my own business when an older gentleman approached me like one would approach a dangerous or unknown animal.  He got close enough to talk but not close enough for me to bite him, not that I was hungry or anything.  Anyway,  after a brief moment of awkwardness ( he was staring at me quite intently) he asked me if I "preached the word."  To be honest, part of me wanted to question to which word he was referring. Presuming, he meant the word of God, I answered with a happy, almost jolly, yes.  (I mean c'mon!  I don't wear this for my health! Although it does keep my neck warm)  Upon hearing that I was indeed a preacher, he asked me where MY church was, again, I thought of the silliness of thinking that I possessed a church all to my own!  (mine, mine, mine).  I replied that I ministered at St. Ann's down the street, and after a brief moment of processing what that meant, he smirked and said, "oh, you're a Catholic, that's not the word."  and walked away.  I received my change and left, amused at the almost absurd experience I had just had.  This brief encounter, however, left me with several questions and thoughts to be processed, and perhaps shared, after all, this upcoming Sunday, we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord and in the Gospel according to Luke, we hear of the great expectation with which the people lived their lives.  Clearly, they awaited the arrival of the Messiah, the chosen one who would come to save his people.  They awaited the fulfillment of the Word.  This fulfillment, however, was not what they had expected, instead of a mighty warrior, we have a man born in a manger, a man who is adored by the shepherds and magi, we have a man who is come to be baptized by John, instead of the opposite.  This is the Christ, and unlike any of the expectations that had developed throughout the ages, he chose to do something different.  The liberation and life that he offers us is not a triumphant and earthly one filled with riches and things, instead, this humble man, who is the self-giving of God, or if you prefer, love taken on flesh, shows us that instead of coming through with our expectations, God often has a plan much greater than anything we can imagine, and often, it leaves us surprised and bemused, in awe of the elegant simplicity with which God does such great things.  In all of this however, much like the man that approached me, we sometimes let our expectations and false hopes to get the best of us, and instead of sharing a moment among people who believe in the Word, we get lost in the words.  Today, as always, we are called upon by God and invited by Christ, to enter the waters of unity and love, the same waters that are made clean by Christ, the one who takes upon himself our sin.  Today, we are welcomed into the arms of a loving redeemer who goes beyond our expectations and surprises us with things unimagined.  Today, we are called upon to hear the Word, and to let that Word ring true in our hearts, so that in our every day living, we may become engulfed in the Word, and not lost in the many words around us.  No sir, I don't have my own church, nor do I preach at a church like yours, but listen, do you hear him?  He, who has died for you and me, he calls us, and because we share in hearing, Him, the Word, we are one, and for that, I thank God.  Maybe I should have given him a hug (that would have really freaked him out!  too bad I don't like hugs).  As always, know that I love you.  God bless you.  Fr. Ricky

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