Psalms 98:1, 7-9
We have two wonderful readings today, the 11th day of Christmas and also the feast of our first American-born saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton. In my Cuban tradition, families are also looking forward to the feast of “Wise Men,” of Epiphany, (celebrated on January 6th in Latin America, this year falling on Sunday, the 7th, according to our liturgical calendar).
I am grateful today for the ‘wise men’ of the scriptures and the ‘wise women’ like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who by their priorities, actions and writings teach us to root ourselves in a relationship with Jesus and live lives of holiness.
In the first reading, John’s letter reminds us there are different standards, different criteria for judgment operating in our world that influence our priorities. We feel tension personally and politically as we seek to make choices. (We need Ignatius’ tools for discernment constantly!) I feel this tension between the holy and the unholy in America today. Overpowering voices in our culture that teach us to look out for our own interests as individuals, companies, political groups, and as a nation in competition with the interests of others. A new presidential cabinet member was quoted in the local paper (Omaha World Herald 12-18-00) as saying: “American foreign policy… should refocus the United States on the national interest.” “There is nothing wrong with doing something that benefits all humanity, but that is, in a sense, a second-order effect.” My faith and common sense tell me this is a faulty and dangerous dichotomy. Aren’t the interests of ‘humanity’ and our own interests vitally connected? Only working together locally and globally will we resolve our world’s deepest conflicts and environmental challenges.
“Let no one deceive you…” St. John tells us, “No one whose actions are unholy belongs to God, nor anyone who fails to love one’s brother or sister.” Jesus offers a different standard from secular culture.
The ‘good news’ of Jesus’ life was that God’s will is the well-being of all. This is an epiphany of global proportions! God needs us to proclaim this by our actions as Elizabeth Ann Seton did in the care of the sick, the poor and those needing education. That was the mission she discerned in her reality. This is how she met God. What is our mission today?
The desire to live God’s standard and the wisdom and strength to denounce evil and proclaim the truth of the good news flows from relationship with Jesus.
In the Gospel today, John the Baptist points out the true Lamb of
God, the true Messiah. Two disciples listen to John and follow Jesus.
Jesus invites them to stay with him, to “come and see.” As the feast
of Epiphany draws near, I pray we will listen to the ‘wise folk,’ the John
the Baptists and Elizabeth Setons in our lives, and have the courage to
meet Jesus, to follow and to stay with him. Then we can see what
he wants us to see about ourselves, our world, our own unique mission.
Then our priorities and choices will be for the well-being of all and so
proclaim the ‘good news’ and bring glory to God.
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