January 14, 2018
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi
The two disciples of John the Baptist, Andrew and the other disciple, have a very powerful personal encounter with Jesus. It is so powerful that it changes their allegiance from following John to following the one who is the Lamb of God, Jesus himself.
I liken this personal encounter with the Lord of Love to one’s encounter with a future spouse. Such a life-changing encounter causes one to ask the question, “What am I looking for?” “Have I found what I am looking for in this person standing before me?”
When we meet someone with whom we fall head over heels in love, we want to know where they are staying, where their heart resides. We want to know everything about them—what makes them tick, what impels them to act and live as they do. That is the desire of all disciples of Jesus—to find out where he stays, to know him in a uniquely personal way.
Thus, the invitation of Jesus to those desiring to know him, to know where he stays, is “Come and you will see.” This “seeing” is more than simply discovering who Jesus is. It is coming to see God and others as Jesus sees them. It is seeing as Jesus sees—which is the deepest kind of intimacy, the deepest kind of knowing.
Jesus invites us to see God His Father as Jesus sees the Father. Seeing the Father through Jesus eyes means knowing that God never gives up on loving us or seeking us out.
Look at the call of Samuel through Jesus’ eyes and see the God who persists in calling Samuel, who keeps on calling until Samuel finally understands it is God who is calling. God persists, God perseveres, and does not give up after one try or two or three. See how this persistent love of God manifests itself in the life of Jesus. Jesus sees in Simon the potential to be the foundation of His Church, the rock on which can be built a living structure of believers. So, Simon is given a new name—Cephas—translated Peter, which means “rock.”
Even though Simon at times does not live up to his calling, for he crumbles and fails because of pride or fear, Jesus persists in loving him and continuing to call him. “Remember, Simon, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
See the church through Jesus’ eyes as a group of redeemed sinners, who though imperfect, carry his saving message into the world. Andrew, who experiences the redeeming love of Jesus, who knows Jesus as the promised Messiah, is the one who brings his brother Simon to Jesus. Simon, who becomes Peter, the leader of the early Christian community, comes to know the Christ through his brother, Andrew.
God continues to use imperfect, sinful human beings to bring other imperfect, sinful humans beings to knowledge of His Son.
Through the eyes of Jesus, see how the God of mercy works with a sinful people to continue His saving work. See how God can even use each one of us, with all our weaknesses and warts, and yes, even our sins, to bring others to know His love.
Come and see through Jesus’ eyes the power of the Sacraments at work in the world. See through Jesus’ eyes how God’s presence manifests itself in the Sacraments.
See in the “never go away love” of a wife for her husband the enduring presence of God. See in the “I will always be there” love of a husband for his wife the faithful presence of God. See in the life-giving love of a man and a woman the power of God’s life-giving love.
If you want proof of God’s faithful love for his people, look no farther than the faithful love of a husband and wife which endures and grows through thick and thin, through times of great joy and crushing sorrow, in sickness and in health. See the Risen Jesus at the center of their lives, the One who holds them together and draws them deeper into the mystery of God’s love for His people. See with the eyes of Jesus His powerful presence in a small piece of unleavened bread. See the Risen Jesus present in a small sip of wine, pouring his very life into us. See what Jesus sees when he says, “Take and eat, this is my body”; “Take, and drink, this is my blood;” that He is inviting us to share in divine life, calling those who feel separated from God to enter into communion with God.
If we see what Jesus sees in the Sacraments of the Church, what we end up really seeing is the Risen Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit transforming these lowly bodies of ours into the temple of God. Beginning with baptism, the Holy Spirit has been poured into us, so that these earthen vessels become containers of the living God, temples of God’s Spirit.
The Sacraments of the Church not only remind us of our God-given dignity but also make us dignified to be a dwelling place for the Holy Trinity, where the Father, Son, and Spirit choose to dwell. As temples of the living God, these bodies of ours deserve the deepest respect and honor, as do the bodies of others.
Jesus invites us each and every day— “Come and you will see.” Ultimately, what Jesus wants us to see through his eyes is the radical dignity of every human person made in God’s image. Looking at others through his eyes means going beyond physical appearance, beyond the color of skin or the shape of the face or the body, to see the imprint of God’s image permanently imbedded in the other person.
When we stay with Jesus, we see every human being as made in the image of God and are empowered to honor and respect and love that person, no matter their race or language or past misdeeds.
Staying with Jesus means how we see others will never ever be the same again.
January 7, 2018
Fr. Joseph A. Jacobi
The billions of people walking the face of the earth can be divided into 3 groups. That’s right, three groups.
There are those who are seeking God and who find God. Group #1. Group 2 are those who are seeking God but who have not yet found God. Finally, the 3rd group of people are those who are not seeking God at all and do not find Him.
Those in Group #2 eventually find God and move into Group #1, but the 3rd group of people wander the face of the earth, forgetting why they are here, that they have come from God and are meant to return to God, and all of life is meant to be a journey home.
The Magi on this joy-filled Feast of the Epiphany remind us why we are here — to seek and find God. The strangers from the East, who don’t even have names, show us what life’s all about—a journey fueled by the desire of finding the King of Kings, the Light of the World, the One who brings meaning to life itself.
Though the Scriptures do not use the adjective “wise” in describing these travelers, their actions bespeak a wisdom we can all learn from. We want to be “wise” like them, so our searching will result in discovering the Son of God, so we may know him, love him, and serve Him in this world in order to gain entrance to the next.
The evangelist Matthew does not tell us how many wise men make this journey from their home country to a foreign land looking for the new-born king. We have always labeled them as the “3 Wise Men” because of the three gifts which they present to the Christ-child. However, we don’t know the exact number, but what we do know, is that there is no such thing as a “wise man” in this story, only “wise men.”
Wisdom flourishes in the company of others, while folly flowers in solitary endeavors. Those who are wise do not “go it alone” while those who are foolish act as if they can do it all alone, and end up lost, lost, lost!
The ongoing journey of faith, this adventure of seeking the Lord, can only be done fruitfully in the company of other seekers, of other folks of faith. We join others in the quest, and together we find our way forward.
When we go it alone in our faith journey, without the help of a community of faith, we not only stumble around and end up going in circles and getting nowhere, but we also find ourselves mired in the mud of discouragement.
Wisdom loves company, because wise men and wise women urge each other onward, especially when the journey is hard and difficult and the temptation is to give-up or give-in. Others carry us forward when our hearts are broken and our hopes dashed, and we carry them in return.
Together, the wise men are able to finish their journey, to reach their goal, to find their heart’s desire, the child of promise, the newborn King. Those who seek the Lord, who long to discover Him and know Him better, do so with others, never alone.
Those who are wise also are humble, which means they know what they do not know. Those who are wise are humble enough to stop and ask for directions, to ask for help. Those who are wise know they do not know it all and are unafraid to admit their ignorance and ask for what they need.
The wise men in the Epiphany story ask for directions while lost in Jerusalem. Now I know it may be hard for some of you women to believe this, but these men do not go wandering all over Israel looking for the newborn King, afraid to admit they are lost, but instead ask for directions.
This is a real journey with doubts and dangers, wrong turns, and times of feeling lost. But these wise men are wise because they do not hesitate to inquire of others who may know more than they do, to seek advice.
Their journey is meant to encourage us to persevere in our search for the King. Many of us set out on the journey of life with a great dream and a bright future, only to have it all disappear or collapse in tragedy. Things and unexpected events get in the way, like clouds hiding the sun. Some of us lose not only our way but also our self-confidence or doubts arise and we think we are losing our faith. When that happens, the truly wise seek the guidance of others. They ask for directions.
What we share when we tell this Gospel story is a message of hope that the darkness will pass, and that by having the humility to ask and seek direction, we shall come into Christ’s radiant presence. By having the wisdom to ask and seek direction, coupled with an unwavering commitment to life’s journey toward Christ, we shall come into His glorious presence.
Which brings us to the final lesson on wisdom which these Gospel travelers teach us. Those who are wise bring gifts to give to Jesus.
What gifts are we prepared to share with Jesus this year?
What gifts is He asking us to give him joyfully and generously?