Monday, February 8, 2016

Points of Light

How many watched the Super Bowl Sunday?  If you were a casual watcher, not a fan, you might have followed this advice:  Find something about one team you don’t like and cheer the other team.  For example, you don’t like the color of the uniforms; you had a bad hotel room in Denver or Charlotte.  This makes things more interesting.  

Fortunately, we have many positive reasons to cheer.

Jesus calls disciples
In the Gospel according to Luke, Jesus goes out into the deep waters of the Sea of Galilee with Peter and the other fishermen.  Peter, while skeptical after catching nothing all night, recognized something special in Jesus.  And so Peter casts the nets again and makes a sensational catch.  Suddenly he experiences the awesome presence of God in Jesus.  He cries out: “Lord.”

Then Jesus, the master, calms them: “Do not be afraid” and calls Peter and the others into discipleship with Him. And they leave everything they have and become disciples.   

Theirs was a purpose-driven life, to quote Rick Warren’s best seller. And they fired people up with God's grace so that they were able to choose their better selves, give their time and talent for the furtherance of God's kingdom of truth and justice and freedom and peace and stand up for what was right.

Jesus, the master, has also called us to a life of discipleship through the life-giving waters of baptism. Baptism is God's gift to you and me.  And our basic response to God's gift is gratitude. Gratitude that we are alive, gratitude that we are who we are. Baptism marks us and transforms us into "new creatures," "citizens of heaven." 

Baptism, in other words, means Christened.  We are plunged into the mystery of Jesus Christ.  Christ lives in us; and we live in Christ. Christening describes how I live: always struggling to follow the Master, our exemplar.

Baptized and confirmed in the Spirit, we celebrate the mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at the Table of the Lord. This celebration sends us out among others to live our baptismal and Eucharistic mission: to live in a manner worthy of our calling, a God-like life, to treat all God's creatures with respect.  

What precisely does this mean: “sent out to others?”  Every one of us has gifts or talents that can empower or “build up” other people.  By virtue of our baptism we possess the power to believe, to hope and to love.  

And within our common Christian life there are many splendid callings.  I love the image of “a thousand points of light.”  God shines with transcendent brilliance. And those who ask for the grace to draw closer to God glow with that radiance.  Teacher or student, business man or business woman, -- whoever you are, you have a specific vocation--calling--to “fire up” people with God’s grace. We are called to become one of those “thousand points of light.”

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