Whenever there is a change of power, there is a big question of what is next. The new CEO comes in and people start asking if their jobs are safe. Walt Disney World almost did not get built. Walt Disney died and the question remained of whether they should continue pursing the park. Eventually, the board of directors came forward and said let’s do it. That question of what is in store when there is a change of leadership is always key in our lives because it means a new era is to happen that will take the organization to a new direction. Remember when Josef Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, immediately people began to ask what this meant for the future of the Church. Where were we going?
Today, we see a huge change of leadership, although on the surface it is quite small. One preacher is arrested and another comes on the scene. The first one asks if the second one is his replacement. The answer is to examine the fruits of his work in that you will find the answer.
However, in reality there is a bigger picture here. A new era has come upon us. There has been a power shift. John the Baptist is asking the question as to whether this shift has come upon us. Jesus is giving him the answer. The shift continues and you can either be threatened by it or you can let it empower you as agents of the Kingdom of God.
Let’s begin. The formative days of the Kingdom of God are over. The Kingdom of God has arrived. Jesus shows its arrival by demonstrating his power. He heals the sick, frees the demoniacs, etc.
Now, you have to see this in context. This week, I went to the doctor because of my cold. He told me that I am on that fine line between Pneumonia and Bronchitis. He says not to worry, with today’s medicine, there is no reason to be concerned about dying of pneumonia. During the days of Jesus, this just was not the case. People could easily lose a limb for an infected cut. They could and did die for other diseases and conditions that today we don’t even consider a threat. Suddenly, he comes along and brings healing to those who are sick. Remember the sick were at the mercy of the community, not the government, but the community. Now by healing them, they are empowered when they were weak.
The poor, who had no hope, now have a hope in the Kingdom of God. If you study the bible you will see over and over again that the prophets and the disciples talk about the end of injustice at the hands of those heartless who are rooted in earthly power. They proclaim the beginning of an era of justice at the hands of the merciful God. Over and over again this happens and those who put their hopes in just what this world can offer will be severely disappointed when the time comes. However, those who put their hopes in the Kingdom of God will find vindication.
One of my favorite songs is Brother Can You Spare a Dime? My favorite version by the way is by Spanky And Our Gang. If you remember the tune, it was written during the Great Depression. It is the story of a man who was economically on top of world. However, when the great depression hit, he was left begging for food just a face in the crowd. A man walks by whom he remembers and he calls out to him for a dime, trying to get the man to remember that they were once pals Say don’t you remember, you called me Al, it was Al all the time. Say don’t you remember, I’m your pal. Buddy Can You Spare a Dime?
Everything he put his hopes in failed him. Those who put their hopes in the Gospel find that never does this fail them. They have a future. Jesus is empowering the people with that message calling them to understand that this is just a temporary location. The true reality of life is in the future in Christ.
I am reminded of the man in prison who told me that he really fouled up his first life, so he is preparing himself for the future. He turned his life back to Christ came back to the Church. There are many who can look at that cynically. However, no where did I say that he was doing that to get out early. He was in for life. He had a hope that he did not have before, a hope that the world could not give him. Remember he was part of that world at one time.
Yet, Jesus is empowering the people to see that hope and to offer it to others. It is an important message. The more we put our hopes in Christ, and all that he did for us, the more power we have to serve him.
We are empowered as people of faith. We are also leaders as people of faith. Our call is to live our faith, to act on our beliefs and to be the kingdom of God.
How do we do that? First and foremost, we must pray. Second we must allow God to lead us to see what action needs to be done. Maybe that action is to pray for others. Maybe it is to help another. This week we watched the movie Entertaining Angels in which we saw the life of Dorothy Day. She taught that Catholic action involved living the corporate and spiritual works of mercy. It is an important element of our lives, this is one of the weapons we have in the tools for living as members of the Kingdom of God. These works of Mercy.
- To feed the hungry;
- To give drink to the thirsty;
- To clothe the naked;
- To harbour the harbourless;
- To visit the sick;
- To ransom the captive;
- To bury the dead.
The spiritual works of mercy are:
- To instruct the ignorant;
- To counsel the doubtful;
- To admonish sinners;
- To bear wrongs patiently;
- To forgive offences willingly;
- To comfort the afflicted;
- To pray for the living and the dead.
These are active elements you and I are called to do. Are we living these?
One of the most disturbing elements I am watching in the Political Sphere is the concept that you and I are called to lobby for more government assistance to people. Dorothy Day hated that concept. She said, no we are called to assist people. You and I, us. Remember the words of the Country’s only Catholic president who said Ask Not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country. I am amazed at how many people from my generation live the exact opposite.
Jesus empowered us to live the Kingdom of God until such time until we get to the other side of the Pearly Gates. Live it in the Joy of the Expectation of its coming. Then we too empower those who have no hope, we too bring healing to those who are sick and we too find Christ in those whom the world has cast aside. We too further the Kingdom of God that Jesus established in our hearts in our service to Him. After all, we are his ambassadors.
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