|St- Andre-Rublev's Saviour|
In the care of the Ecumenical Franciscan Order
Homily, 8th December 2013, 2nd Sunday in Advent, delivered by Br Luke EFO.
There are times, aren’t there, when what we read in the Scriptures just seems to shout at us? They just seem to confirm that the task we have before us is the right one. Today I think is one of these times. The Gospel reading today is about John baptising people. He is giving them a new start in the faith journey.
For us Christian’s baptism, is the start of our faith journey as followers of Christ. For Pentecostals, it is the full immersion in the water of baptism that signifies their being “born again”; and is the necessary precursor for them to receive the Holy Spirit. For the traditionalists, baptism in the name of the Holy Trinity is enough. But in either, or both scenarios the act of baptism is an act of faith and results from, and leads to, commitment. And it is from that act of faith that a journey starts. So today we are staring something new. We have stepped out in faith, much like a baptism and we are starting to walk a path we believe Christ set before us. And like the faith journey that stars with baptism, so too must this new beginning today be a start not an end.
John warns those coming to be baptised that the simple act of baptism is/was not enough. The act must be followed by commitment. If we are simply baptised and then do nothing to walk as a Christian, then we may as well not have been baptised in the first place. Jesus tells us there are two great commandments: The first, is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your strength and with all your soul”. That is hard enough, but then he adds the second. “Love your neighbour and yourself”. For some of us it is hard enough to love ourselves let alone the persons next door, or the person we know to be our neighbour. Yet this is exactly what Jesus asks of us. That act of love, starts with our faith journey and doesn’t stop.
Now, you know, I have no doubt that the next time we read this passage of scripture the Holy Spirit will focus us on a different part of the passage. Or perhaps give us a different perspective on the same words we have just heard. For some of us this may be uncomfortable, but I think this should not alarm nor surprise us. This is the nature and purpose of the Scriptures. They are there to inspire, guide, encourage and challenge, confront and shock us and that won’t happen if every time we read them, we have the same response.
So while we start something new today, it is not enough for us just to be here today. We need to ensure we walk the path we have been shown and so we need to be here each week. To show both the commitment and the love that Jesus asks and calls us to. It won’t be easy, but then nothing of real worth ever is.