• Isaiah 49: 1-6 • 1 Corinthians 1: 1-3 • John 11: 29-34 • 2 Ordinary A’14 •
Scripture Readings: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 01.19.2014
Watch television or simply listen to your peers. You probably are aware that practically no one is listening, not really listening, to what others are trying to communicate. Many of us are really concerned about this. That is one reason I invite folks to my home for conversations around the dining table. Now in my retirement years I continue to do this as a priority.
Through a life dedicated to study and prayer, the mid-20th century Jesuit paleontologist/theologian Teilhard deChardin arrived at the conviction that everything in the universe is constantly evolving. He defined evolution as the ongoing phenomenon of living things simultaneously becoming more complex and more centered.
Evolution means all creation is in process of becoming more complex. Evolution occurs as outside pressure compels life forms to change. Unless they evolve, they become extinct.
We humans have reached the state of evolution in which we are conscious of our consciousness. External pressure no longer determines human evolution. We now decide if and when we evolve. I am convinced honest and respectful conversations are an essential part of the process.
John the Baptist is named among the prophets of the Bible. Today we learn John’s relationship with and his understanding of Jesus was evolving. John tells us that “when John saw [his cousin] Jesus coming toward him” he said, “I did not know him” until the Spirit came and hovered over him. Then John realized that while he baptized his followers in the waters of a river, Jesus will “baptize [immerse] his followers in the Holy Spirit.”
“He [Jesus] will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” Through study and contemplation, Teilhard deChardin realized the evolutionary implications of those words. The message Jesus spoke and the life he lived invite us to allow that Gracious Mystery we name God to permeate, soak and transform our hearts, minds and bodies.
As John’s understanding of Jesus evolved, so too does our own. I readily admit “I did not know him.” My relationship with and understanding of Jesus as “the Christ” is evolving. Gradually through the eyes of faith, I am beginning to see and understand the Christ Mystery more clearly than our ancestors did, and more clearly than I did last year.
The key to understanding the Christ Mystery is love. The only force that maintains our complexity as individuals while transforming us more deeply into one is the force of love. “Love alone is capable of uniting us in such a way as to complete and fulfill us.” Love, “unconditional love” enables us to become fully human and fully alive. How does love do that? Love both weakens us and strengthens us.
When I love another and give myself totally to the other, I abandon all my defenses. I let go of my fears and the narcissism that motivates me to think only of my interests and my prosperity. When I love another and give myself totally to the other, I open myself to whatever good or bad the other cares to do to me. In that sense love weakens us.
At the same time, love leads us to experience the uniqueness of the other and self. It draws us into a creative newness, creating bonds of unity and oneness that cannot be achieved in any other way. When I love another and give myself totally to the other, I discover the good and generous spirit buried deep in me. In that sense love strengthens us.
In Christ, you and I have been graced with an amazing vocation. We are evolving, being transformed into the Living Body of Christ. Listen to God with your heart. Be honest and respectful in conversations about serious matters such as things you heard in this or others homilies. Through our sharing and listening we are becoming the Living Body of Christ! I hope you are aware of how blest and graced we are – to be the Living Body of Christ!