Years ago, during my final semester in college as part of a documentary team in northern New Mexico, I embarked to climb a mesa close to the adobe house that I was renting. After reaching the summit, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful vista of mesas that lay before me. For a kid that had never been west of the Mississippi (and rarely west of the Delaware), this was simply an astonishing experience. There before me, was beauty beyond comprehension; it was perfect and it was no accident. Though I didn’t know who, someone had a hand in this creation. The way I looked at the world, forever changed……
Of the many things to consider in these initial days of his public ministry, one moment in particular that comes to mind is while in the synagogue at Capernaum, how Jesus teaches with authority both by what he said and what he did, as evidenced by exorcising an unclean spirit and how all those around him were astonished, there was something different about him, and something resonated within them because “he spoke with authority, not as the scribes.” But what is this authority that resonates? Jesus provided clarity of vision as well as an experience that was compelling, one that touched these people in their need.
So many times in our own lives, many of us have witnessed much the same, the presence of Christ in both word and action.
Today, if we listen, I mean really listen we can actually hear the astonishment of those witnesses who say: “What is this? A new teaching with authority.”
There is something of a stirring within them, a desire to change, and to think that this is just the beginning………. While they can’t yet fully comprehend what is going on, yet somehow, they know this moment is different.
Can you think of a moment, any moment in your life when you were amazed, when you felt, this moment is different? Perhaps, it was a moment of great joy or maybe a time when you were tested…..then something happened, and although you couldn’t put your finger on it, you just knew that there was something that you witnessed something that was authentic, different, and as a result you were changed. Like most of you, I too have experienced times of joy and times where I was tested and more times than not, found both to be experiences that astonished and sometimes even changed me. Today we hear just how Jesus’ actions demonstrated the power and authority behind his words to all who were present.
There is a saying that actions speak louder than words. Our words and actions reflect the depth of our own intimate relationship with God, and with that comes a desire to share his love with those among us, and what better place to begin than here in our own community?
Each one of us are called, or rather invited, to give of ourselves to each other. Look, we’ve all heard the phrase: “time, talent and treasure” probably more times than any one of us care to remember. By sheer repetition that phrase begins to lose its true meaning, and can be perceived as just another catchphrase to either recruit someone for ministry or request financial support. The truth is that we are invited as members of this Catholic community to give of ourselves in response to the Gospel message.
Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Buddhist spiritual teacher and close friend of Thomas Merton, once wrote that true peace actually “is every step,” or to put it another way, every mindful action that we take. The question is: What steps will we take and what effect will those actions have on our families, our communities and our church? Will they strengthen us and help us grow spiritually? No one person can do everything, but every one of us at some point can do something. For some it will be ordained ministry, for others it will be lay ministry, remembering that all are called equally in service to others.
I wonder what will those steps be, and will our words match up with our actions?
And to think, this is just the beginning…….
Deacon John Rich