Tag Archives: hope

Third Sunday of Easter, Year B

Purification of the Saints

As Christians we have a destiny. We are to become like Jesus. That is our hope. We read in today’s Epistle:

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.   (1 John 3:1-3)

John, who was a disciple so close to Jesus, understood that more was coming. Things had not yet been consummated, but they would be. Long before John, even in all his afflictions, Job cried out:

For I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
   (Job 19:25-27)

We are going to see God in the flesh and we will recognize him. We will also be like him. That is the great promise of God in the Gospel message. But if we are not careful, we could easily lose sight of this by the many distractions of this age which are designed by Satan to bring us down. The Apostle Paul writes:

For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.   (1 Corinthians 13:12)

In today’s Gospel we have a clear picture of what is to come by reflecting upon one of the resurrection appearances of Jesus:

Jesus himself stood among the disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence.

We see Jesus, who was not resurrected as a ghost or some disembodied spirit. He had flesh and bones. He ate food in the presence of his disciples. In other words, heaven will be real. We will have bodies. We will recognize loved ones. And we will have a body like the body of our resurrected Lord. He was resurrected in a body.

Now it is true that our bodies will be changed just as the body of Jesus was changed. He could move about in different dimensions. He was not limited by space and time. All that we cannot fully understand now. But we will. And we will be like him.

How does this transformation work, you might ask? It is a mystery. It is of God’s doing and it already has begun in our lives. The Apostle Paul writes about this transformation:

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.   (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

We have a role to play in this transformation. It is God’s doing, but it is ours to receive. Are we looking at the face of Jesus or are we concentrating on the world? In truth, we become who or what we worship.

We are again reminded by John:

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.  (1 John 3:2-3)

Our hope is in Jesus. When we focus on Jesus then our hope in him purifies us. It allows God to transform us into his likeness, from glory to glory. Jesus is pure and we also must be pure.

John goes on to say:

Everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he was revealed to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins; no one who sins has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Everyone who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.   (1 John 3:4-7)

This is the great miracle of the Gospel. Jesus not only paid the price for our sins, he also gave us the power of his Spirit to eradicate our sinful nature. We slip and fall from time to time. Though trials and temptations come our way, the Spirit of God never gives up on us just as Jesus never gives up on us. We may have been unfaithful, but God is faithful.

From Lamentations:

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”   (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Let us go the distance with him. Let us walk in his path. No matter what circumstances we may be  going through in the moment,  let us, like Job, we will cry out with faith and hope:

For I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
   (Job 19:25-27)

Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Easter, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Year B

You Have Found Favor with God

King David was disturbed that he was living in a house made of cedar and the ark of God remained in a tent. He had approached Nathan the prophet about building a housing for the ark. God spoke to Nathan about David’s desire:

Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.   (2 Samuel 7:8-11, 16)

God turns the tables on David. He tells David that, rather than having David build him a house, he would build David and all Israel a house, and that this house would be established forever. God was saying that he is the one who provides for his people and not the other way around.

Let us fast forward to the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise. It is a time when many of the people are in despair. At the time the angel of God visited Mary there had been 400 years of silence where God had not spoken to his people through any prophet. During this period there were many political upheavals for Israel. Influences from foreign nations had undermined much of Israel’s understanding and hope concerning the plans and promises of God.

When the Angel appeared to Mary how could she have possibly understood what she was being told?

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”   (Luke 1:30-38)

What is remarkable is that, though Mary could not have fully understood what the angel was saying, she was able to receive it on faith. Mary responded:

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”   (Luke 1:37).

Why was Mary able to respond in such a humble and trusting way? I believe this is revealed by her prophecy which is known by many as the Magnificat:

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior;
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel,
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.   (Luke 1:46-55)

God’s timeline became Mary’s timeline. God made promises “to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary had a powerful faith to see what the angel was saying as part of a continuum of God’s salvation history for his people.

Where do we fit in to this great promise of God today? Do we ever feel that God has not spoken to us for a long time? Surely there are times when God tests our faith. Surely we go through dry spells in our spiritual walk. Nonetheless, has not God made the same promise to us that he made to David? Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.   (John 14:1-3)

We cannot construct houses for God to fit in. He is the almighty, transcendent, and creator God who cannot be bound by human hands. Yet he is also Emmanuel, God with us. He has chosen to dwell with us forever. The psalmist writes:

Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.   (Psalm 100:3-5)

Like Mary, we need the faith, truth, and hope to say to God: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Advent, homily, Jesus, lectionary, liturgical, liturgical preaching, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, sermon preparation, Year B