Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Today we have one of those rare moments in our liturgical year when a solemn feast takes the place of a Sunday liturgy, in this case the June 24th celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. Why? How much time do you have?

Well, for starters, John is a pivotal figure in the story of our salvation. You often hear of him referred to as the last of the Hebrew prophets. He segues us from the “Old” to the “New” Testaments: the story of God dealing with his people.

Several of the pieces that make up the puzzle of our story appear just in today’s readings. First, the second servant song of Isaiah speaks of one who will come. First the image is of Israel itself, and then the image shifts to one who will make Israel great. The Psalm speaks of one “fashioned in the depths of the earth...” and “wonderfully made.”

Our reading from Acts has Paul quoting John the Baptist saying, “'What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.” All these pieces of our puzzle have been about Jesus.

And then the gospel: the wonderful story of a child amazingly born to an aged couple who are very clear about his name, Iōannēs, Greek for the Hebrew Johanan, “God shows mercy”. Here is the one whose role it will be to finally introduce the one who has been expected throughout Israel’s long history of expectation. That’s why we celebrate John’s birth!

Now let me “segue” to another topic. (Segue is really a musical term that means move from one part of the musical piece to the next without interruption.) So as I speak of John’s important role, ultimately it’s about introducing us to Jesus. We are called to follow Jesus in the same important way that John preceded him. Now we are the Body of Christ. To be the Body of Christ we need a sense of unity of purpose and a common way of living out the life of Jesus for people to see.

(Hopefully, here comes the segue...)

Speaking of unity, do you ever wonder why I keep trying to emphasize how important it is for us to slow down the Lord’s Prayer at Mass? Think about it. Usually at the beginning of Mass I ask you to introduce yourselves to each other, and often say that you’re not going to get into heaven without each other, scary as that thought might be.

Unity means a common shared purpose and way of acting. Think about the Our Father. We come to it during Mass and sometimes I felt like half the congregation had one foot in the grave and the other on banana peel, convinced that we sure better get in the prayer before we slip.

SO, OK. We try and slow down. But the next real problem is trying to match the pace of the person next to you. You have to listen. It’s very hard...not too fast... not too slow. I’ve got to listen.

Point? If we can’t learn to pray together, how on earth would we ever hope to present a unified face of the Lord to a world that so badly needs to see him. That face is more badly needed than ever in times when narcissistic self-promotion often mars our daily landscapes and draws our attention away from the issues we can only address and solve together. When’s the last time you discussed immigration without trying to impose your solution? Occasional¬ly, it doesn’t hurt to leave the table with issues unresolved, but with the hope that you have listened more than you spoke, and maybe learned something.

That’s why I’m trying to slow down the ‘Our Father.’ At the altar, we are not only fed, but we are in training! May each moment gathered at our altar strengthen us to become one with Jesus and remain...    

In Jesus,
sign frjim

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