Those who teach priests and ministers how to give homilies say that, if you have a joke, it should pertain to the Homily. However, the following two jokes don't even come close. However, their purpose though is to lighten up our Community with some laughter. Our God laughs; so should we.
Joke 1: A wife was standing by the door. Her husband went outside. She said to herself: "He always says he wants to go out more. So she locked the door.
Joke 2: A husband was looking out the window. It was winter. He said that he hated the cold. With the wind he hated it more. The clouds made it dark so that he was depressed. With the blizzard he was going to have to shovel hugh drifts, And all his wife does was look through the window. After a while he said to himself: "Maybe I ought to go outside and let her in."
As Christians we need to read the Old Testament Prophets more. In the Reading from 2nd Isaiah - written most probably by a school of Isaiah while the Jewish people were in exile in Babylon - the Spirit of the Lord GOD called and anointed him to be both a Prophet and a Priest of the Lord. In the same manner that same Spirit is upon us as the LORD Himself has called and anointed us with the oil of Baptism to be "Priest, Prophet and King". 2nd Isaiah says we are called to be a Prophet and to be named "priests of the Lord". What are we today supposed to do with that being a Prophet and Priest to which 2nd Isaiah and we are anointed to do. In the words of 2nd Isaiah, we are:
- to bring glad tidings to the lowly
- to heal the brokenhearted
- to proclaim liberty to captives and release to the prisoners
- to comfort all who mourn and
- to announce a year of favor from the Lord.
The "year of favor from the Lord" refers to the Jewish Law that, every seven years, debts were to be forgiven, slaves were to be let free and land was to be redistributed in a more equal way. It is the basis of our Bankruptcy Law in which we are released from debts and obligations, although we must wait seven years before we can file again.
2nd Isaiah also speaking as an anointed Prophet says of God: "For I, the Lord, love what is right. I hate robbery and injustice."
Paul speaks along the same lines, telling us "to admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all; see that no one returns evil for evil; (but) rather seek what is good for both each other and for all."
Paul adds: "Do not quench the Spirit." This is something which the early Church took for granted. But, after a long period of "private religion" and following the 2nd Ecumenical Vatican Council, we are beginning to think as the early Christians did. We are coming to know that the Holy Spirit is capable of talking to each one of us as People of God. The Holy Spirit can do this directly to us. He is not bound by speaking to us only through Bishops and Priests. He can and does, even today, call us individually to be alert as to what we must hold true as "Christian values". "Do not despise prophetic utterances" says Paul, for there are prophet among us - and it might be each one of us - leading us to apply our Christianity in Wisconsin, the United States and the world in these days. "Test everything; retain what is good" for there is enormous pressure being put upon us to soften or even not to apply firm and real tested Christianity to world today.
We are sometimes led to believe that we must hold some beliefs or belong to a party or a group, because "we have God on our side". But God doesn't belong to any side. Rather "Abraham Lincoln had it right. Our task should not be to invoke religion and the name of God by claiming God's blessing and endorsement for all our national policies and practices - saying, in effect that God is on our side. Rather Lincoln said, we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side."
The Gospel of John is powerful, leading us to the Son of God Who was with God from the beginning. John begins his Gospel with the familiar words "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was God", followed by "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth." John the Baptist, who was a relative of Jesus and six months older, baptized Jesus and then states that "This was He of Whom I said: 'The One Who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because He existed before me'."
After John had baptized Jesus, Jesus begins His ministry. And what is His ministry? It was to the poor and vulnerable, to the outcasts of Jewish society. Jesus continues this same ministry throughout His whole life. And finally a few days before final Passover in Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus tells that He will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep carried on His mission by feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, receiving strangers in their homes, clothing the naked, taking care of the sick and visiting those in prison. And they did this without ever seeing Him when they did these things to the least important of His brothers.
I have been reading a book by Jim Wallis, an evangelical minister. The book is titled: "God's Politics - Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It." He points out that the Prophets preach over and over again, as in 2nd Isaiah above, that we must accept God's call and anointment to serve the poor, the powerless and work for justice. He shows how the teachings of Jesus continue this message. He shows the need to impact our society and our government with the fullness of Christian teaching on many issues we are now being taught are only "politics", in which religious Christian values have no place. As "politics" we are not supposed to deal with these Christian moral matters. Where the "Right Gets it wrong" is by invoking God only in narrow issues such as abortion and gay marriage, and not in broader economic, political, justice areas. And in the book he say that where the "Left Doesn't Get It" is being afraid to proclaim publically that the values of Christians and the values of other people of goodwill who might not even be religious apply to the areas of public, political and world issues. He quotes a frustrated Democrat after the 2004 election as saying: "My party is still afraid of the "G" word."
God does have politics. But they are neither Republican nor Democrat, neither "Right" or "Left". They have been pointed out to us by the Old Testament Prophets and by the Son of God while on our earth. The big question is not "Is God on our Side?", but rather as Abraham Lincoln said, "we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side."
God has anointed us to do things on earth. We must pray to keep God close to us, but that is not all we must do. Just as God anointed the Prophet Isaiah, so He has also anointed us. The Prophet Isaiah explains that we are anointed "to bring glad tidings to the lowly, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to prisioners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God, to comfort to all who mourn."
We have been anointed as in the Ceremony of Baptism it says: "You are Priest, Prophet and King"
"For I, the Lord, love what is right. I hate robbery and injustice."
God will "make justice and praise spring up before all the nations".
We are to "admonish the idle, cheer the fainthearted, support the weak, be patient with all; see that no one returns evil for evel; rather seek what is good for both each other and for all"
"Do not quench the Spirit" (Who tells us what we must do). Do not despise prophetic utterances" (which come even today and sometimes through us). "Test everything; retain what is good." (For we must apply the wish of God to matters of our day.)
Gospel of John
Jesus was in the world. Through Him all things were made. The world did not know Him. His own Jewish people did not know Him.
When we accept Him, we become "Children of God".
John the Baptist says of his cousin - 3 months younger than him: "A man is coming after me - Who ranks ahead of me - because He existed before me."
Without much fuss He called Andrew who was a disciple of John the Baptist. Through Andrew, He called Andrew's brother, Simon whom He renamed "Peter". The He called Philip. And through Philip He called Nathanael who asked: "Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
Jim Wallis: "God's Politics". Why the Right Get's It Wrong and
the Left Doesn't Get it.
p. xiv "Abraham Lincoln had it right. Our task should not be to invoke religion and the name of God by claiming God's blessing and endorsement for all our national policies and practices - saying, in effect, that God is on our side. Rather, Lincoln said, we should pray and worry earnestly whether we are on God's side."
p. xiv "God is not partisan; God is not a Republican or a Democrat. When either party tries to politicize God, or co-opt religious communities for their political agendas, they make a terrible mistake."
p. xv "God's politics is therefore never partisan or ideological. But it challenges everything about our politics. God's politics remind us of the people our politics always neglects-the poor, the vulnerable, the left behind. God's politics challenges narrow national, ethnic, economic, or cultural self-interest, reminding us of a much wider world and the creative human diversity of all things made in the image of the creator."