Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
..a return today to what the Church calls Ordinary Time..
how ordinary time has changed & continues to change..we’ve to keep pace or be left behind..
on side of large delivery lorries operated by Next is an extraordinary promise..one which many of you may now take for granted as ordinary..it says “order by 10pm for delivery next day”..there is nothing nowadays in life or in faith that can be defined as ordinary common place routine or regular..
..every moment in life, even the last hour before you arrived here, is extraordinary, never to be repeated..
& once we read & experience life & faith with that perspective the mysterious becomes knowable & familiar..
..the mysterious servant in our 1st rdg alive & well in our own lifetime, in our own homes, in your village & in my monastery..someone you know very well..someone you are coming to know even better..
“..I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord..” ..he honours us.. ; Lord have mercy
“..who formed me in the womb to be his servant..” we good Samaritans..
; Christ have mercy
“..I will make you the light of the nations..” ..we lighthouses steady welcoming..
; Lord have mercy
May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life.
..what next?..order by 10pm for delivery next day..what next in our gospel?..last weekend feast of Epiphany when infant Jesus, moments old, met Magi..& now, almost as if with superfast Broadband, an adult Jesus meets his cousin John..their infant visitation 30yrs earlier when mother-to-be Mary visits Mother-to-be Elizabeth..mothers greet with hugs & smiles, sons meet leaping in the womb..they must have met often in family since then, so it is strange John says, & says twice..“I did not know him myself” we need to read it & understand it in different time zone & in deeper context..we hear of it in St Johns gospel ; he wrote later than the three other evangelists..his is not the google report, displayed on internet 4mins ago, with all the immediacy excitement of breaking news, but later edition, the fruit of thought pondering & graced filled imaginings, from which emerges a much deeper relationship as the Word gradually emerges from a womb space of potential into real life existence, alive & pregnant with meaning & possibility..a prayed gospel rather than a news channel..& so it is natural & supernatural for John to record John the Baptists identification of Jesus, not as Christ or Lord, but as “the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”..you can hear feel & taste the difference..we are in a different time zone with different interpretations of event, of word, & of meaning..for past generations & vitally for us, our generation, our present moment 14/15 January 2017..“I did not know him myself”..John did know Jesus cousin to cousin, within family, within their Jewish faith, in village life & neighbourhood..& as we know, are we not in an ongoing journey of deepening relationship, particularly with those we love most?..the most wonderful moments & some of the most tragic moments suddenly emerge in something said or done, or not said or done..& we think to ourselves “where on earth did that come from?” we’ve been married 30yrs or she’s been my daughter for 15yrs & I thought I knew them” & you can complete the sentence from those real moments in your life..”I did not know him [them] myself”..I wonder how the mother of 15yr old girl in York is feeling today when last week at this time she thought she knew her daughter..& John the Baptist’s mission 2000yrs ago is now entrusted handed down & on to us..”yet it was to Israel that I came baptising with water”..his calling & our calling..to baptise & to realise that in those he & we baptise is he who “is the Chosen One of God”..the cry of Christmas from the infant Jesus was “Emmanuel God-is-with-us” the cry now from us is that Christ is not just among us, but Christ is in us..in each & every one of us..an extraordinary truth of who we really are..once we are baptised fully immersed into that life & spirituality, no longer toe dipping apprentices but fully practising missionaries, with great news in extraordinary times..& what next?..if you “own it” if you see it now & really begin to believe it..tonight before 10pm..then what a terrific gift/ insight you have to offer from your heart tomorrow..”I will make you the light of the nations, so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”..a call an imperative, now we are in Christ, to go the extra mile & give the full deal..in 1994 in Bethlehem the first section of the Israeli West Bank wall was built with concrete slabs..today it is a besieged city surrounded on 3 sides by a 25ft high concrete wall..for Israelis the wall is a protection from Palestinian suicide bombers; or so they tell us ;for Palestinians the barrier has cut their land, separating them from relatives schools & workplace. In 2005 Banksy created a stencilled image on the wall “Girl & Soldier”..it shows a young girl in pigtails frisking an armed Israeli soldier as innocence apprehends the ruling command..soldier in classic stop & search mode, his hands up against wall which he faces, his legs spread apart as he is frisked by the girl. Banksy leaves the graffiti for you & I to read translate interpret & to learn from..”I did not know him myself” he a mysterious servant disciple..a John the Baptist preparing the way..fully immersed in life on banks of Jordan..a banksy indeed!..& now you, with an emerging story, breaking news for those in your family & in my monastic community who wait..for your graffiti & for your innocence.. [2ndSunYrAJn1;29-34]