Sunday, March 18, 2012

remember the giving and the gift

2 Chronicles 36:14-16,19-23; Ps 137 Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you; Ephesians 2:4-10; John 3:14-21

"God so loved the world that he gave his only son..."

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God."

During the Lenten season the church invites us to reshape our interior lives. In this spring cleaning of sorts the church invites us to rediscover the tradicional devotionals that aid us in preparing to enter and recive that great proclamation on Easter morning, "Christ is risen, Allleluia, alleluia" as we our selves rise with him.

The traditional devotionals utilized in this spring cleaning of our interior lives are the rosary, fasting, abstinence and among other things the Way of the Cross.

Every Friday here in Lent we have the opporutnity to make the way of the cross, to get in line with Christ and follow after him, one step at a time for those 14 steps. The chidlren lead the stations on Friday after noon around 2:30, close to the hour of death, and then the various parishes have the stations: 5:30 at Our lady of Guadalupe and 6 pm at St. Aloyius in Westhoff. We also do them in meyersvile at 7 pm on Wednesday.

Many consider the stations to be outdated, old fashioned, or just rather good wall art. I disagree.

It is often said that if you want to get to know someone then you don't walk in front of them but rather you walk behind them; thus, you see what they see and do as they did and only then can you begin to understand the why behind the what of their motivation.

The stations provide us with that opporutnity to get behind Christ and follow along the path, making those 14 steps, walking in his shoes, walking that mile. Then we slowly are awaken to what it looks like to love God with all of our heart, mind, strength and to love our neighbor as oursleves.

Sometimes, I wonder what would we be like, how our society would be different, if we made the way of the cross not just during lent but each week throughout the year, looking outward and upward at him who is lifted high.

It is john of the cross who said, "In giving of his Son, God spoke every word at once; he has nothng more to say."

The way of cross silently proclaims the word of God spoken for all of humanity.

God speaks every words at once in those 14 steps; he has nothing more to say.

Hold on to the stations for a moment as we go to the first reading.
Since the beginning of Lent we have been looking at the covenants in salvation history.

The first week of lent we stepped into the story of Noah and the rainbow and how God promised to be patient with us in our human weekness and not destroy the world again by flood.

The second week we encountered Abraham the man of faith who did not withold his only son, as he took Isaac to Mt Moriah to sacrifice him and God stayed his hand and Abraham named that palce, YHWY Yireh, God will provide.

The third week, we gathered around Mt sinai and watched Moses come down the mountain and give the ten commanments; these guide lines become life lines of love and freedom. The nation was shaped by the word of God.

today, we look at the Davidic covenant through the lens of history brought to us by the Chronicler. Our first reading is taken from the 2nd book of Chronicles. Chronicles details the unfolding of the davidic covenant through David's descendnants as they ascend the throne.

God promised David that his dyansty would be without end.
What we discover in the book of Chronicles is that there were some rotten kings. In fact, a common theme throughout the book is "he did evil in the sight of the lord."

Nonetheless, God proves himself faithful and true to his promise.

For the Chrinicler, history is revelation. History through the Davdic covenant reveals two important things, God's motivation for acting in the world and man's response to God's involvement.

The reading today tells us, "early and often God sent his messengers, becasue of his deep compassion for his people and his dwelling place."

What is God's motivation but his deep compassion for his people. God is rich in mercy as Paul puts it in the second reading.

How do the people respond? They "mocked" the messengers, "despsied" the warnings, and "scoffed" at his prophets.

This too is revelation, though not a new one. They remembered the giving but they forgot the gift.

But perhaps we think, that was then and this is now. Perhaps we think we are too sophisticated to mock, despise, scoff at God's deep compassion for us.

Go back to the cross, the way of the cross. The disfigured face of Christ, the head wrapped in thorns, the back beaten and bruised remind us that some things never change. We have a propensity to mock, despise, and scoff at the deep compassion of God.

We don't handle truth well.

Even today, so many mock, despise, and scoff at the teachings of the church. How often do I hear people say, "I love the church but I have a problem with this or that teaching."

News flash: the church is founded by Christ. If we believe the words of Jesus, Peter you are rock and upon this rock I will build my church,  then church is the messenger of Christ for he commands her to go forth and teach all I have commanded.

If we have a problem with the church, then we have a problem with Christ.

We mock, despise, and scoff. We too remember the giving but we forget the gift.

This is why the way of the cross is important. There we see Him who is our head lifted high. Thus our eyes are no longer directed inward but outward and upward.

Then we look upon the gift and our memory is jarred and our hearts are humbled and thus we can receive the message, the word proclaimed in silence.

In giving his son, God spoke every word at once; he has nothing more to say.

We must remember the giving but not forget the gift.

In the gospel today we hear the dialogue between Jesus and nicodemus, the one who comes at night. Perhaps Nicodemus is scared or unsure; perhaps he doesn't want to be found out; perhaps he wants to be a secret follower of Chirst at night and not by day, after all he has a reputation to up hold.

Sounds like us.

But, whe you get to the 13th station and Jesus is taken down from the cross and led to his burial site, remember it is Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who do the honors.

Nicodemus finally comes out n broad day light to express his love and faith.

Maybe he made the way of cross, followed Christ closely and had a conversion and finally understood the gift.

May it be so for us.

In giving his son, God spoke every word at once; he has nothing more to say.

Remember the giving, do not neglect the gift.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...
Recieve it anew, full, entire, complete.

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