January 19, 2014
ORDINARY 2 (A)
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God. – John 1: 34
When we look at Jesus, when we contemplate him, what do we see? Do we see the divine image that God has planted within us? We find it hard to accept that who Jesus is, is also possible for us.
In a novel by Lloyd C. Douglas, Miriam is telling Marcellus the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector whose life was totally changed after Jesus came into his home. Marcellus asked, “But what had happened?” Miriam replied, “Nobody knows. Maybe He didn’t say anything at all. Perhaps He looked Zacchaeus squarely in the eyes until the man saw – reflected there – the image of the person he was meant to be.”
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist captures the image of the person Jesus was meant to be: the Son of God. Our tragedy is that we seem unable to know & experience the Spirit of God that lies within each of us. Jesus has come to look us squarely in the eyes until we see – reflected there – the image of the person we were meant to be.
John Newton was an English clergyman noted for his preaching & the writing of many outstanding hymns (including Amazing Grace). His mother died when he was seven years old, & with his father at sea, he was left largely on his own. As a young man he was conscripted into the British Navy, but he deserted & became a slave trader in Africa. If ever there was a man with a poor self-image it was John Newton. According to one writer, he was “a wreck of a man … he was a hard, rough, dirty sailor with a foul mouth & an appetite for rotten living. He hated life & life hated him.”
Once he fell ill & was bedridden for two weeks. During that time, someone gave him a copy of “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas A Kempis, & he slowly began to change. For six years he struggled to find peace until finally he began to love life, & life began to love him.
When he entered the ministry for the Church of England, he wanted people to know that he had a marvelous secret to share & he did so all over England in his preaching. Toward the end of his life (died in 1807), he insisted on preaching every Sunday even though he was nearly blind & needed an assistant to stand with him in the pulpit. One Sunday he repeated the phrase “Jesus is precious.” His assistant whispered, “You’ve already said that twice” to which Newton replied, “Yes, & I’m going to say it again.” Then, at the top of his old voice, he cried out, “Jesus is precious!”
Now I want to tell YOU a secret. YOU are precious, because God made you in His image. YOU have been chosen by God to reveal His loving presence in the world!
Recalling his boy scout days, Arthur Gordon remembered fondly a troop leader who was a great nature lover:
“He would take us on hikes not saying a word, & then challenge us to describe what we had observed – trees, plants, wildlife, everything. Invariably we hadn’t seen a quarter as much as he had, nor half enough to satisfy him. “Creation is all around you,” he would cry, waving his arms in circles. But you’re keeping it out. Stop wearing your raincoats in the shower!”
When we look at Jesus, what do we see? Are we wearing our raincoats in the shower? Do we see the Son of God? Equally important, do we see the person WE were meant to be? AMEN!