If we only live by laws that are written on stone tablets, our lives and our faith can become stagnant, legalistic, judgmental and joyless , like the town mayor in the film Chocolat. Jesus came to offer us a law of love that is written on our hearts, and if we are willing to die to the attitudes and behaviors that are not loving toward ourselves and others, our hearts can be changed and we can experience renewal, growth and joy.
Like the serpent on the bronze pole that Moses help up for the Israelites to be healed from snakebites in the wilderness, we are called to look to Jesus for healing. Healing is one of the gifts of the eternal life that believing in Jesus promises us during our life on this earth. Finding deep healing involves practices of interior examination, such as exploring our family’s impact on us, learning what causes our anxieties, and getting in touch with our feelings and emotions.
Jesus calls his followers to “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me”, followed by the paradox that if we want to save our life we will lose it. There is a cost to discipleship, and when we make the commitment to follow Jesus, we will experience abundant life and true meaning and joy in life.
At Jesus’ baptism, he heard God say “You are my Son. In you I am well pleased”. In the same way, God calls us to a deeper relationship with Him, rooted in being beloved and blessed by Him.
Jesus’ closest followers saw Jesus “transfigured” on a mountaintop and heard God say “listen to him”. This encounter strengthened their faith in Jesus as God’s Son and prepared them for the tough road ahead. In the same way, our own “mountaintop experiences” can carry us through the challenges and low points we experience in life.
Jesus’ ministry was characterized by love, grace and miracles--healing and deliverance from evil spirits-- through the power of the Holy Spirit. God still brings healing and deliverance today, sometimes in ways that can’t be explained by science, and other times through “everyday miracles” where love, sacrifice, forgiveness and grace are shown.
The community of followers of Jesus grew as people who encountered him invited their family and friends to “come and see” him. We as a church and as individuals have been touched and changed by Jesus and have much good news to share with those around us. Let us open ourselves to be willing to invite others to “come and see”.
As Christians, Jesus is the foundation of our faith. When we take our eyes off of him and his way of peace and love, we are susceptible to follow other leaders and ideologies that seek to divide and destroy, such as what happened at the Capitol on January 6.
When Jesus was a baby, his family fled to Egypt as refugees because of King Herod’s threat upon his life. Like Herod, we all are tempted to old onto power and use it for our own gain, even at the expense of others. Instead, we called to follow Jesus’ model of power through humility, servant-hood and sacrifice.
The elderly Simeon and Anna had the eyes to see God’s salvation when the baby Jesus was presented in the temple. Can we see opportunities for salvation in our everyday experiences?