Perhaps some of you have great-uncle Marmaduke still with you this fifth day of Christmas?! Maybe he is rapidly becoming a real burden and testing your Christmas spirit ... drinking...
THIS SUNDAY’S OLD TESTAMENT READING [ISAIAH 50: 5 – 9a] will provide us with great encouragement. We will find new energy in striving to be not only alive in our discipleship but LIVING it in such a way that we will bring forth approaches to faith which enables us to take possession of what the Lord has already given us.
Am I impatient if I do not want to wait for ‘heaven’ but desire to enjoy now, in my living, a real part of the possession already given? I do not think so. After all,
TODAY’S PSALM [116 or 115] tells us that “I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living … he has turned his ear to me whenever I call.”
The secret of this approach is found in today’s message from Isaiah. First of all, we see there is the mutual relationship of hearing each other. Yes the Lord has, indeed, turned his ear to mebut the prophet tells us that
“the Lord God has opened my ear.” Very often we forget this. We do not hesitate to ‘bend the Lord’s ears’ with petitions (very often unrealistic expectations?), pleas, moans and groans. How often do we make use of our own ears which he has opened but we have stuffed with cotton wool?!
Here, do not forget last week’ reflection which highlighted (i) the quite sublime word ephphata – be opened, and (ii) the real need we have to slow down and breathe! When we open our ears to
HIM it becomes so much easier (and a great deal more productive) to proclaim with Isaiah “I was not rebellious, I turned not backward.” In addition when we slow down, breathe and take the cotton wool out of our ears we experience the truth proclaimed by the prophet – that “the Lord God helps me, therefore I have not been confounded.”
So, we have (go back a few weeks) to be doers of the word, not hearers only. This means we must be opened by the word and allow the same word to open us wider and wider, further and further.
THIS WEEK’S NEW TESTAMENT EXTRACT [JAMES 2: 14 – 18] adds powerful confirmation to this approach. Our faith and discipleship should never isolate us from the lives and needs of others. Saint James tells us that “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead …. I by my works will show you my faith.” Come on, then, EPHPHATA …. get up and go.
However, it is
TODAY GOSPEL READING [MARK 8: 27 – 35] that focusses us on the basic of Christian faith – JESUS CHRIST! Each and every single Christian and Catholic must answer the question posed to the disciples in this Gospel extract – “but who do you say that I am?” We need to understand the Lord’s instruction when he “charged them to tell no one about him.” This admonition is nothing more than an emphasis on the PERSONAL NEED for each one to make their own individual profession of faith.
To be doers of the word entails us being doers of Christ. We cannot ‘do’ Christ unless we
KNOW AND ACCEPT him as THE Christ – the Lord and Saviour. Jesus is the Word – no more, and no less. We have to hear this Word. Then we have to do Him.
Is this an exaggeration? Not so! Go back to those powerful verses in the first chapter of John’s Gospel version.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and what God was, the Word was. …. and the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
We, too, must ensure that the Word becomes flesh in our own lives
. It may well be that, like Peter, parts of that being alive are not to our fancy but with Isaiah we must not be rebellious, confounded or turn backwards (inwards).