Reflections on the Readings
January 25, 2015 - Year B
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Gospel of God
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel."
In John's baptism was the promise that the best was yet to come. And it was that promise that John pointed to when he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." How did John know that Jesus was the one who would bring his ministry to its completion? He saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and by that sign knew Jesus to be the Savior of the world.
In captivity John spent his days and nights alone. No longer in his comfortable wilderness surroundings with the heavens as his cathedral ceiling, John, in solitary confinement, had only his memories of his last baptism to sustain him. And so he sent a message to Jesus by way of his disciples asking, "Are you the One we are looking for, or do we look for another?" Maybe it was a low moment. Or perhaps he just wanted to be sure that he was about to lose his head for the right reason. Even John's community of followers may have pressed him for more insight about Jesus. But no worries. The answer came back loud and clear: The lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and to the poor the gospel is preached.
The Jordan River is filled with more than water. Within its ebb and flow resides the memories of great things. For example, a few centuries before John the Baptist, a new generation of Jacob's children, entering a new land, to be a new nation began at the Jordan River. The priests bearing the ark of the covenant led the way as the waters of the Jordan rolled back on either side and the people walked through the Jordan on dry ground. On its banks, John the Baptizer, preached that One greater than himself was soon to come. And when Jesus left the waters of the Jordan He announced that the fulness of time had come; that everyone was invited into this new era called the kingdom of God.
With news that everyone is welcome to come and begin a new life if only they repent and believe in the gospel, Jesus, anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil. (Acts 10:38) Turn around and come back to your Father was the message of Jesus.
Today that message is still the same. It's an important and urgent message as we hear St. Paul say today for the world in its present form is passing away and the time is running out. For the life of the world we are called to be focused on what is above. And we have the best calling in all the world. Pointing to Jesus like John did and telling everyone the good news, that Jesus can take away your sin and give you a new life and a new community called the kingdom of heaven. He's got outlets all over the world where the gospel of God is still the message of hope and promise and of a new day that is soon to come.
The message never changes, because Jesus never changes. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. So let's keep the doors open. Go out into the neighborhood and into the hood, and invite all you meet to come back home to God. For long before Tom Bodett promised to leave the light on at his Motel 6 chain, the Church has kept the light of Christ shining in the darkness so that all may find their way back into the embrace of a loving God and hear his gospel of mercy and love and the promise of rest for their soul - your soul. Amen.
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com