As we look at today’s readings, we have completed “Christmas season” and are nearing the conclusion of the first week of Ordinary Time. We have lived the miracles of Christmas and have seen the belief of the Magi and the shepherds. Therefore, it is fitting that our readings remind us of the works of God and of our need to hear and believe.
The first reading tells us of the Good News and warns us not to be as our ancestors. It is interesting that our ancestors are viewed as not profiting from what they heard. How many times in our lives is that true for us? We will frequently test what we hear or see – it is a long-standing joke that people will try to touch the wall or bench when there is a “Wet Paint” sign – we just have to see it for ourselves. We have very clear promises about our future and what wonders it can hold. Yet we are always “testing” it. Our disobedience is seldom a one-time occurrence. Rather, we hear and know, yet seem unable to act accordingly. We can profess belief but without actions that uphold those beliefs, we, like our ancestors, will not profit from what we know.
The second reading continues this theme of listening and remembering. The emphasis throughout the responses is clearly on the works of the Lord. Far too often, we take those works for granted. One of my favorite authors/scientist/humanist is Einstein. There is a wonderful quote of his that focuses on miracles. He states that “there are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle, the other is as though everything is a miracle.” Truly, we have to believe that miracles happen everyday, right before our eyes. Unfortunately, we are not always aware of them and fail to share them with others. Both readings speak of the different generations, the first warning not to make the same mistakes as our ancestors and the second, urging us to make our children aware of the wonders of God. Here we are, in the middle, with the opportunity to learn from the past and to affect the future. How will we take on that responsibility? Will we be able to learn without having to make the mistakes? Will we be united in faith and pass that faith to our next generation?
We know from a behavioral science perspective that many times content that is learned/read in group settings is not always seen as relating specifically. For instance, if we truly were able to always put what we know into practice, health care professionals should be the most fit and healthiest (at least in terms of those aspects of which we have control – weight, smoking, etc). Well, I looked in the mirror this morning and know that statement isn’t true!! I’ve never smoked so I learned something there but … I know what good nutrition is, the benefits of plenty of water daily, and the importance of exercise. While this may seem a stretch, I propose we are the same in our faith life. What we know, what we hear, what we claim to believe – are not always evident in our actions and even our attitudes. How often do we embrace the miracles of our daily lives? Are we, too often, like our ancestors and not profiting from the Good News?
The gospel brings home the message of the wonders of grace – the forgiveness of sins. As Jesus says, “Which is easier to say?” Yet the ability to cure seems to pale in the grace of forgiveness. What a miracle, indeed, a promise of our future! We will be forgiven – it’s seems pretty simple, we need to truly believe and act accordingly. My mother and my new granddaughter share the middle name of “Grace.” I think it is no coincidence – I am surrounded by grace and pray for the ability and awareness to see it everyday in my life. As we begin this new year and the ordinary time of the church year, may we remember the wonders of the Christmas season and prepare ourselves for the miracles yet to come. May we always remember that this life is never ordinary . . .
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