Epiphany II Sermon Jan 20 2019 fr. Michael Cawthon
Last week we had the “self-manifestation” of Jesus when he was twelve years old,
as he stayed several days in the Temple
listening to / and asking questions of the “doctors” of the Temple (the teachers)
and we are told they were astonished at his understanding and questions.
During advent through now we have had several readings involving John the Baptist. This morning, the trend continues…
Let me paint a picture revealing
The angel Gabriel had announced to both Elizabeth and Mary,
God’s plan for them
as each would give birth –
Gabriel even gave them the name of the children:
John and Jesus.
Both were given their names upon the eighth day following their birth, following Jewish custom.
John the Baptist knew Jesus – from his mother’s womb
as he had “leaped for joy” at the sound of Mary’s voice.
John faithfully spent his life fulfilling God’s plan for him
as many of the children of Israel were turned to the Lord their God.
And now today in the Gospel
we hear some very important words … Do you recall them?
Could be the most important words you will ever hear…
did you hear them?
“Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
The Gospel of Mark tells us this astonishing fact at the very beginning of His Gospel.
What more can be said?
For if we believe these words in the first verse of His Gospel,
then my friends we have “eternal life” awaiting us,
a life beyond anything that our feeble little minds can even imagine,
much less comprehend.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God…
(If you were lucky, I would end my sermon here), sorry no such luck!
This week’s Gospel tells us the story of Jesus baptism.
For John the Baptist, the experience of Jesus baptism / had to be of prime importance;
for now John would begin to yield himself, to the presence of His Lord and Saviour Jesus.
His mission of “forerunner” is now basically fulfilled,
as of now the Messiah Himself, Jesus Christ,
enters into His own historic work and His own destiny.
This Gospel reading also is preparation for the awakening of Jesus
to the full sense of His vocation, and His mission;
as following this event, He will be led by the spirit;
immediately into the dessert to be tempted by Satan.
The ending of the reading reveals the Holy Trinity.
Jesus came to John to be baptized
and straightway as He was coming out of the water,
the heavens are opened,
and the Spirit descended upon Christ, as a dove;
and a voice proclaimed that “Christ is the beloved Son,”
in whom the Father is well pleased.
Here we have one of the ultimate of all manifestations,
a super / major Epiphany, of Christ, the Son of God.
Can you imagine the Joy of John / upon seeing this Revelation from God as he personally witnesses the revelation of the Trinity.
This man, who from his mother’s womb has known the truth,
and now he witnesses what he has known,
with his own eyes and ears…
his heart bursting with Joy
as he sees the fulfillment of his own life,
before his very eyes.
His Joy is witness to our joy on that glorious day when we hear:
(Mat 25:21) Well done, thou good and faithful servant.
John the Baptist urged the people,
to prepare “ye the way of the Lord,” making his path straight.
It is of extreme importance that we give Him (Jesus)
a ready and willing access into our heart, souls, and mind.
That is why we are to straighten what is crooked in our lives,
that which is not in line with God’s holy will.
We must clear away obstacles before us;
Such as greed, cruelty, slander, and puffing up of self which feeds a dangerous pride.
This wilderness, through which a path must be made ready is,
in the final analysis our hearts.
The Joy that John the Baptist received,
as he witnessed God’s Manifestation of the “Son of God”,
is a Joy which is available to each of us.
As John had learned to subdue his body,
we also, must do the same.
This strength, to fulfill God’s Will within our lives, is found within His Holy Temple,
just as in last week’s reading, and it is present here within St. Michael’s.
Jesus prepared something so vital and important to our salvation,
that we are in danger if we neglect or even worse, refuse it …
The Holy Eucharist,
the feeding of our souls.
The church was established by our Lord (read the Acts of the Apostles)
And He prepared it to provide “His Real Presence” among us, even unto this day.
But as they say about the horse – you can lead it to the water but you cannot make it drink…
The same is true for you and I, the Sacraments of our God are here,
But no one can make us participate.
You see, it is up to you and I, to use these precious gifts from God, gifts which He established to us to provide
wisdom, understanding, knowledge, repentance, love, endurance, strength, and courage.
The Spirit is here to feed and sustain you, but He will not force you to come.
Enrich your hearts with His Grace, let his spirit guide you to His Son…
For it is His son who tells us:
(Jhn 14:6) “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus loves you and is “Real Presence” with you this day:
This is my Body,
This is my blood.
Come, partake, and receive repentance and strength
to walk with the “Son of God”
and even cry aloud, Abba, Father “here I am – send me.”
Do so, And the Son of God will give a joy that is immeasurable.