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Get into the ring! How this works...

This is easy! Each week on Thursday I post my homily idea...my main focus for preaching this coming Sunday. What I am hoping for is a reaction from people in the pews. Does my "focus" connect with your daily life, faith, and experience? Or not? Either affirm the direction I am going in (by giving me an example from your life) or challenge me, ask for clarification! Questions are the best! Reaction rather than reflection is what I'm looking for here. Don't be afraid, get in the ring. Ole!



Friday, January 14, 2011

January 16 - Second Sunday of the Year

-the homily from the baptism of the Lord is in the library ->
-the Scriptures for this Sunday are at USCCB.org ->
-I am presiding at the 5:30 Mass on Sat and the 8am Mass on Sunday.

The Apostle

There was a movie out a few years ago about an evangelical preacher who struggled with many personal and family demons called The Apostle. If that movie is an indication of what our society thinks an apostle is then its no wonder faith and participation in the church are dwindling.

This last week I had the privilege to offer a retreat for six young men about to be ordained priests. We spent a great deal of time reflecting upon things "apostolic". While the first definition of the word is "one sent", the deeper meaning is "the one who bears the presence of another" - maybe ambassador. The apostle or ambassador must be emptied of his own "baggage", his own credentials, if you will, and transparently make present or bear that of the one who sends him.

That is St. Paul. That is Israel in our first reading. That is the priesthood of the Church. That is your life baptized in Christ Jesus: to set aside yourself and make room for the one you bear to the world.

Does your Christian character bear the image of Christ crucified and risen? Do they see no longer you but him whom you bear? The world needs to see him in us. God's purpose for our lives is to bear His light and life to a darkened world dying from sinful self-aggrandizement.
Apostolic!

13 comments:

karen said...

Matador!
Definitely food for thought. I pray for the strength & spirit to make that my goal. Thanks for being the coach!!

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful and inspirational writing; however, i got a little stuck on the word ambassador. it seems like it assigns 'rank' - a higher or more superior.

so what about us little insignificant ones... i'd just like to know how to love God with my whole heart - i'd like to learn how to trust Him... i mean really trust HIM. Yea, i'd sure like to know how to do that.

anon 1 said...

I am inspired by this deeper meaning of apostle – “the one who bears the presence of another.” That definition takes the meaning of the word so much deeper than the traditional, “one sent.” And as I read the Matador’s message further I was challenged at considering whether my life “bears the image” of Christ crucified and risen. I am always struck by that understanding of Jesus – that He lives on not only as the risen Lord, but as the crucified risen Lord. The glory of God contains both the beauty of the resurrection, and the exaltation of the cross that includes suffering and even humiliation. I have seen a sculpture of the crucified risen Lord, and SOMEHOW the artist managed to capture this paradox. One could see in it what seem to be the contradictions of Christian life – embracing the burdens of everyday living along with the joys one can find on the same day; the agony of loss surpassed by the delight of new life; the anguish of brokenness exceeded by the gladness of opening your heart to deeper loving and giving of yourself. I think it is more typical, at least for me, to express and hold onto one side of life at a time rather than this richness of Christianity. That makes it difficult then for others to see in me this One whose image I hope to bear.

Barbara said...

Hmmm… if you are referring to the movie “THE APOSTLE” – of the late ‘90’s, with Robert Duvall and Farrah Fawcett (I think Billy Bob Thorton was in that too) then yes, you are correct about the impact of this somewhat popular movie. The same assessment can be made about many movies that twist and skew Christianity leaving so many confused and very misguided.

The question I am most asked and the one I personally struggle with is; “what do we actually do about it?” No one seems to understand how to be a greater reflection of God through everyday life. Nor do they know how to combat what pop culture has and continues to redefine. Many practicing Catholics don’t feel they have a responsibility to others of the same faith much less those not of the faith. Non-practicing Catholics are typically just existing, holding on to one, long ago formed justification for not engaging in their faith or going to church. What do we do? How do we “lead” by example under these conditions?

I strongly believe that through the sacrament of confession we empty our burdened hearts of sin and in doing so allow “room” for God’s love in our own lives. I view confession to be a very important step in an ongoing process to be faith-filled. I believe that it’s necessary to become void of baggage as you’ve stated but believe it to be accomplished first through confession and personal faith reflection so that we are capable of being the bearers of his light. Without releasing the heavy burdens of sin how can we ever hope to be reflections of God, how can his purpose ever be known to us? I never hear confession talked about as a “starting point” and wonder why that is - sometimes I think the importance of it has been lost. I could be wrong.

I am curious to know how you think we can accomplish a greater reflection of God in our lives. I think it is a constant work in progress but what would “success’ look like? How would anyone know they are truly on the right path when most don’t event know where the path begins. How can we speak to opinions that are based on false interpretations, and how do we “ work” to bring forth understanding without being viewed as or accused of those who perpetuate a false sense of self-importance?

Barbara said...
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Barbara said...
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Anonymous said...

I do not see the word "apostle"/ " ambassador"
as a description of "rank", my thinking is more "a servant" to others. We are called to be servants to others, to the ones that are in need, not only physically but in spirit.
Of course, the ability to serve others is going to depend on how much "baggage" we are carrying within our heart. As a sinner my baggage will be ever present, but knowing that God's loves me regardless who I am, motivates me to listen to him during quiet prayer, and reflection and even seeking help from one of the "servants" to identify my call in this life. When we realize that we are "nobody" them is when others can see the face of Christ in our lives.
Gitana

Anonymous said...

The world when Jesus lived did not want His light and message, and the world today does not want our light and message. Jesus was rejected and so will we be in today's society.

Anonymous said...

I do see myself as an ambassador of the Catholic faith, as well as the Christian faith. I feel it is my responsibility to show all my non and ex-Catholic friends that, yes, Catholics are everything they think we are NOT. We do follow and read the Bible, we do love and get excited about our faith. On the flip side, every mistake I make is magnified and immediately labeled as "hypocritical." My ex-Catholic friends wonder how I can be so in love with the Catholic faith, get so excited about it, and "get alot out of it" (because we all know, they judge everything on what they "get out of it" and how it makes them feel). So I hope I can be a positive example of what it means to live our faith. lr

The Matador said...

Ole!

Anonymous said...

'ambassador' is just a word... (silly you) and while i do not believe that apostle and ambassador are synonymous, i simply think that 'apostle' as is.. or servant is a better word. ambassador just sounds like such a political word. (sorry, it's a personal thing ((maybe one of those "wordly" words)) that i don't care for) - just an opinion.

in addition - i agree, quite strongly, that one must empty oneself - make room for GOD, the more, the better... SO much distraction in this world.. i pray about distraction all the time.

emptying oneself - that's almost kinda like trying to figure out how i can love my LORD with my whole heart, my whole mind, my whole soul, etc...

how do i do this

TO: lr

In regards to living the faith:

i lost my job in a mormon law firm because i chose not to participate in celebration over certain behaviors (i.e., artificial insemination: leaving 17 babies "thrown away") --- they all knew i went to mass daily, they all knew i wore my 'catholic' jewelry, they all knew i carried a rosary in my purse or pocket, they all knew i listened to the catholic radio station and they all knew that i believe Jesus is the Messiah, ...

I just simply practiced my faith - I never preached to anybody at work and the only question I was asked was by a new employee.. he asked me, "how do i pray the rosary?".. !! YES !!! :) and! he wasn't Catholic... wow. GOD is so cool. and, cooler yet, whyever would he ask me??! what made him think i knew? i still don't know - that alone is pretty cool.

all in all my friend,

i was the Catholic girl that lost my job BECAUSE.. I was the Catholic girl. (It was one of those "at will" states... and, i was just simply 'let go')

you are not alone my Catholic sister, this one
also tries to live the faith... now, i ask you, what example is this i have left behind in this world -> in this world?

anon 1 said...

Wow – with all these entries I feel like there is a party in the blog room! Even the Matador is here, with his olĂ©! I apologize for the additional entry but with all this dialogue I’ve continued to think about the Matador’s message. I realized that I am struck that even the possibility of being "the one who bears the presence of another" is an amazing thing. The “fact” that this can truly happen speaks to this idea of “community” that we have blogged about from time to time. That in itself is such a gift – and a beautiful gift of our humanity when we strive to fulfill the role adequately. As humans we tend to get caught up in our individual identity, but this reflection reminds us that is not our Christian calling. I remember when my mother died a number of years ago, only one of my three dear college friends could attend the services. The others were out of town and not able to make it in short notice. But “the one” represented the others. To me, it was as if the whole group was there. It is possible to be the image of something, someone beyond ourselves – and it strikes me that is quite a powerful capability. But as all the blogs before me have indicated, it is quite another matter to accomplish bearing the image of this One whom we love, and who loves us, so much.

Anonymous said...

what IF one did bear the image, would they know it. St Paul seemed to know it.

Do you doubt the Lord's power of creating HIS image in you. If it is HE who exists, there is no doubt... it is not us, it is not 'our' accomplishment.. it is HE who exists.

hmm. i suspect it is a scary thought to decrease so much that He takes over... becoming visible in us..our faces, our actions, our lives.

did Mother Theresa know what she 'looked like'.

kinda like Fr. was saying recently, after you've spent some time with another, like most couples of long-term marriages, you tend to resemble the other, look like each other,

truly loving one another, the two have truly become one... one bears the presence of the two - they bear an image - one image.

so, seems to me that if you want to resemble, represent, bear the image (okay, ambassador for) the Lord, then you'd have to know Him - on as an intimately spiritual level as you would your spouse...

it is hard (and painful to me) to know so many "don't know". how do i tell them, how do i bear this image? how much do i doubt. how tiny is my faith. When I pray for Him to increase my faith, how much am i holding on to?

?

HE is not beyond us - HE is with us ..Emmanuel!

Mother Theresa's words are heavy on my mind lately -- these words that have always stuck with me in "those" times: she said, don't you worry about what the other one is thinking, you just do what the Lord is telling you to do.