March 16, 2013

Lenten Question: How Have I Responded To Jesus?

(Homily notes for Lent 5, Yea C 2013 by Rev. John Gishler)

In Lent we are always looking for self-examination questions to help us get rid of our spiritual garbage and develop a richer spiritual life. The Readings assigned for Lent 5 help us do this by reminding us that God was doing a new thing in Jesus and by giving us dramatically different ways in which people responded to the Earthly Jesus. The question is where does my response come on the scale between the responses of Mary and Judas?

1.  Isaiah prophesied (43.16-21) that God would do a new thing
  •  New as in different from the Covenant of Moses / The Law   
  •  Not a replacement but an addition to, a deepening
  • Water in the desert = new spiritual life in a wasteland
  •  Hebrew Religion had become a barren wasteland for many
  • Not unlike our own time when personal Christian Faith has become a dry wasteland distorted by compromises and conflicts over doctrine and practice for many people
  • We all need to constantly review and renew our Faith

 2. Mary responded to Jesus with extravagant love
  • She honors Jesus by breaking a $ 50,000 bottle of perfume, anointing his feet and wiping them with her hair as a sign of her love.
  • She probably gave him everything she had, holding back nothing, including her pride
  • She anointed his feet – the standpoint of Jesus, who he was
  • Reminds us of “How beautiful are the feet of one who brings good news” (Romans 10.15) – the Good News of Divine Forgiveness
  • Woman’s Hair also a sign of the glory of God in creation
  • Honouring Jesus as more than ‘a good teacher’ – God with us

 3. Judas responded to Jesus with contempt
  • Judas is at the other end of a wide range of responses to Jesus. He was drawn into the community but, like many today, somehow never really figured out who Jesus was.
  • We are all somewhere along a scale between Mary and Judas
  • Most people are at least a little confused about Jesus
  • I am not the only one who attended church for a long time before really “getting it”
  • Judas never really got to know Jesus – only knew about Him
  • Lent is a good time to reflect on where we are on this scale

 4. Paul challenges us “to be found in Him” (Phil. 3.9)
Paul is challenging us to ‘up our game’ spiritually by developing an intimate personal relationship of trust with Jesus.
  • ·   First of all we have to get to know about Jesus through serious Bible reading and study – cannot depend on clergy, family
  • ·     Secondly we need to move from an intellectual to an emotional relationship through regular personal prayer experience
  • ·         As this relationship grows stronger we will learn to trust Jesus more and depend on our own efforts less
  • ·         Self-salvation” through being good, doing good or knowing all the right doctrines or keeping all the right religious practices is heretical and ineffective.
  • ·         The goal, as Paul says is to become spiritually joined to Jesus
  • ·         We need to give up our alternate idols and self-dependence
  • ·         Our love / faith in Jesus is credited to us as forgiveness / righteousness -  considered in a right relationship with God
  • ·         When we die, we are to be found spiritually “in Jesus”

 The question for reflection is “to what extent have I responded to Jesus with love and come to depend on Him alone for my salvation?

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