12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
While visiting the grade 3 children at school in preparation for their First Holy Communion, Father Joe talked to the children about the hosts. He said, “the people in the church receive a small host and the priest takes the big one for himself.” He then asked, “Why do you think the priest gets the big one?” After some silence, little Johnny raised his hand and replied, “Because the priest has a big mouth.”
Little Johnny was certainly creative in his reply, and, sometimes, having a big mouth isn’t such a bad thing! In our second reading today from the Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, the apostle gives us some exciting news to share with our big mouths! It’s something we can’t and ought not keep to ourselves! He says, “In Christ, there is a new creation, everything old has passed away, see everything has become new!”
With that assertion, Paul sought to tap into a dominant aspect of the psychological make-up of human beings. He knew that we get excited when we receive something new! We tend to seek out the latest conveniences, technologies, and apps and like to stay up-to-date about what’s happening in our world. Similarly, we rejoice when new life, a new generation, is born into our families. A new creation is St. Paul’s way of describing the awesome, new vision God has for our world! —A vision which began with Christ’s birth on earth! It’s the same vision that Jesus passed on to his disciples— and the vision which they, in turn, passed on, to succeeding generations of Christians, and which has been handed-on to each one of us today! God’s vision of a new creation is made visible to the world whenever Christians commit to living out the values of the Kingdom of God. Indeed, the new creation is ultimately, the realization of our ultimate union with God, in which all God’s children are able to live in peace, harmony, joy, and love with one another and with God for all eternity.
It’s a state of existence that proclaims that the human barriers of sin and death have been obliterated and the human categories by which we distinguish ourselves from one another cease to have meaning. It’s an internal conversion of heart that’s irrevocable and motivates us to think, breathe, and act with the mindset of Christ.
Christ began the new creation in his own lifetime. He introduced the values of the Kingdom in all the stories he told and all the actions he performed. Jesus tried to get us excited about that new creation by showing us that it was indeed possible to achieve in the here and now of our everyday existence! The only thing we needed was faith – faith in Jesus Christ, in his saving word, in his fidelity to God’s promises, and in God’s forgiveness of our sins through Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection.
Having faith then, is what it means to be ‘in Christ.’ With faith, our old life of sin is washed away. With faith, we’re no longer left to our own resources to cope with the many difficulties and tragedies of human existence. With faith, we’re no longer solitary individuals living independent lives, but have become a part of something bigger – a community that looks out for one another, and which has the best interests of one another at heart– a community that’s inclusive and not closed-in on itself, but always seeks to invite others to find what we’ve found and to rejoice in our common brotherhood and sisterhood in Christ.
Being ‘in Christ’ means that our entire selves strive to be dedicated to being at the service of the kingdom. Being ‘in Christ’ means too, that our Lord is always with us and that we have nothing to fear because we know that whatever seems impossible for us to overcome, can be achieved through the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord! It’s this understanding of the new creation which needs to have a firm foundation in the hearts of every baptized member of the church.
For without it, we run the risk of becoming disheartened and discouraged and can actually disempower the grace which God gives us to bring that new creation to its full realization in us and in our world.
We see this affirmed in the Gospel story we heard today, in which the disciples thought they were going to be drowned by the great windstorm and waves that were beating against their boat. They thought that Jesus’ inaction meant that he didn’t care about their little lives or about the challenges they were facing. They even lament, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” Far from being unconcerned, Jesus stills the waters and the winds and then uses the event as a teaching tool for them. He says, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” You see, if they truly believed in Jesus’ power over sin and death, their fears would have vanished! If they truly believed in God’s love and care for them, they would have believed that, with Christ, nothing would have harmed them. If they truly had faith in Jesus, they would have had nothing to fear. And Jesus calls them out on their lack of faith.
The same can be said in our own personal walk in life. When we catch ourselves being afraid of something life throws at us, we should remember the great gift of faith which has the power to see us through it all and to bring us into a new reality, a new vision, a new creation! When we think that we can’t go on anymore, and are ready to throw in the towel, we should remember that Christ has claimed us as his own and that when we seem to be the most alone, we’re, in reality, the least alone! When we find ourselves separating or making distinctions among ourselves, which are not God-ordained, we should remember the unity and inclusivity of God’s new creation and work to eliminate those mindsets and prejudices which obstruct God’s vision from reaching full maturity.
When we devalue another person or think of their lives as disposable or as less important than our own, we need to remember how precious and loved every single human being is on this planet by God —whether they believe in him or not — whether they share the Christian faith with us or not —- whether they’ve committed egregious sins or not. When we find ourselves being hypercritical of someone else’s actions or inactions, we should take pause and consider our own culpability, at times, in similar circumstances and seek rather, to be persons of mercy.
It’s in these, and other circumstances of life, that the new creation is being birth, day by day – person by person, action by action and thus moves a little closer to its fuller realization every day. That final completion though, will only take place, when Christ returns. But if we consciously seek to live as members of the new creation each day, our lives and the lives of those around us, will begin to see a marked change, in the NOW of our everyday existence, because we’ll no longer be swayed by fear or a sense of aloneness, but will instead, be living conscious, of being a part of something bigger than ourselves, and more precious than anything we could ever hope to imagine. As members of the New Creation, we’ve indeed been changed and our old selves have been left behind! May we strive to rejoice in that new creation every day, and to invite others to do the same.
To Download click below