Stirring the pot

Readings for June 24, 2018

Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalm 139
Acts 13:22-26
Luke 1:57-66, 80

www.usccb.org/bible/readings/

John’s conception was part of the annunciation by Gabriel to Mary, proclaiming the greatness of God witnessed in Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Later, while still in the womb, John knew when he was in the presence of Jesus, leaping for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. And after his birth, those in the Judean countryside knew there was something special about the birth of this child, John. He was the subject of gossip from his birth, through his ministry, and up to his martyrdom.

Why? Because John stirred the pot. He ate locust and honey. He wore animal skins and lived in the wilderness. John baptized while Jesus was beginning his ministry and gathering together his own disciples. He called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers.” He upbraided Herod for marrying his brother’s wife. And, most of all, he called those who came to him for baptism to repentance while pointing to someone else as the Christ. John not only heralded the coming of Jesus, he made every effort to cleanse the hearts of the people in preparation for a savior.

It can be easy to talk about and reflect on the good news of the gospels. The examples of love and mercy are abundant and uplifting throughout Jesus’ ministry. And the promise of salvation that comes through the grace of God in faith, the inheritance of the Kingdom, the presence of God as an omniscient Creator and a model of perfect love are joyful teachings. But to call out sin and beg the sinner to repent in order to receive those graces and the good news that accompanies them is an inordinately more difficult task. Yet John was born for this. And, of course, he died for this.

Personally, I tend to recoil when someone points to my sins. I think, “How dare you?!” and then consider all of the sins that person may or may not be committing. I rationalize, “I’m not so bad. I go to church. I read the bible. I pray. Others are way worse than me!” But I can’t find any reference in the bible to John comparing one sinner to another and saying, “Since you’re already so far ahead of the others, you’ll be fine.” Rather, John said to every sinner, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2) In fact, there is no relativism in the gospels. Jesus himself says, “Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

To repent is to express sincere regret or remorse for wrongdoing. Remorse doesn’t feel good. But when someone or something stirs the pot, reminding me that I am in fact a sinner, I need to accept the tumult that follows. As my only path to perfection in Christ, I need to accept that I have sinned, confess it, and be truly sorry for doing so. Then, and only then, can I have a greater understanding of the fulfillment of God’s love through Christ. Then, and only then, can I be in line for my inheritance as a co-heir with Christ. Then, and only then, am I cleansed and prepared for salvation.

Receive, Lord, my entire freedom. Accept the whole of my memory, my intellect and my will. Whatever I have or possess, it was You who gave it to me; I restore it to You in full, and I surrender it completely to the guidance of Your will. Give me only love of You together with Your grace, and I am rich enough and ask for nothing more.
-St. Ignatius of Loyola

7 thoughts on “Stirring the pot

  1. This post is more like a reflection from the pulpit to the pew and stirs the thought. Thanks for the important reminder. John’s call to acknowledge our sins and repent continues daily. And now that Christ has come and fulfilled the law by showing us the way, the truth, and the life, it applies more urgently.

    Like

  2. “when someone or something stirs the pot, reminding me that I am in fact a sinner, I need to accept the tumult that follows. As my only path to perfection in Christ, I need to accept that I have sinned, confess it, and be truly sorry for doing so. Then, and only then, can I have a greater understanding of the fulfillment of God’s love through Christ. Then, and only then, can I be in line for my inheritance as a co-heir with Christ. Then, and only then, am I cleansed and prepared for salvation.”
    #AMEN!!!!!!!

    The truth will set the sinner free! GGGRRRREEEAAATTT POST!!

    Liked by 1 person

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