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23rd Sunday. OT. Return to Me and I will return to you.

Have you even wondered what it might have been like to be Jesus?

I mean, he was a man, a human being just like us, but he was also divine. He was God. Not half and half, but 100% of each. It’s the dual nature of Jesus, and it has a technical name, The Hypostatic Union.

He could see through anyone. He knew what they were thinking. He knew their secret agendas, he knew what motivated them, he knew why they were the way they were. (For those who knew him well, it must have been something like the psychologist at the cocktail party. Everyone uptight because they feel that the “shrink” is analyzing them.)

He knew the good thief and the bad thief and he loved them both.

He knew the Pharisees, Caiphas and Nicodemus, and loved them both. (I’d like to think that he loved all the Pharisees, but they, above all the others, made it very difficult for Jesus to love them.)

Jesus knew Judas, and he also knew Peter. Can you imagine hanging out with these two guys knowing that they would both betray him, one with a kiss, and the other with his 3 denials, solemnly swearing, as on a stack of bibles, that he didn’t know the man. And yet Jesus loved them both.

The advantage of Jesus being God, and not just a psychologist, was that he knew all the mitigating circumstances that may have led any of these people to do the things that they did.

He was there, after all, at their beginnings, he knit them together in their mother’s womb.

He was there at their birth, when they were deprived of oxygen a little too long,

He was there when they were abused by that strange uncle,

or when they were forced to hang out with the wrong crowd,

or got drunk one night and did something stupid that plagued them through life.

So it was easier for Jesus to love them than it might have been for any of us.

 

Last week we remember that Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees and the Jews in general as he quoted His Father, who was speaking through the prophet Isaiah, complaining that his “chosen people” honored him with their lips while their hearts were really far from him. It was a negative encounter.

I used that passage as a launching pad as we delved into the question of whether or not we do the same. That is, do we just give mere “lip service” to God while our personal lives are sinful?

I went on to speak of 9/11 and I wondered if that was some kind of punishment, or just a warning. I theorized that maybe God is mad at us, here in the United States.

And I hope you did your homework assignment and looked up that link. (note: our website changed last week, and it may have offered a challenge in completing your assignment.)

Well, today we read directly from Isaiah. And again, it’s still the Father doing the talking, but the tone is different than it was last week.  It’s much more conciliatory toward the people. They are kind and loving words instead of harsh and judgmental words.

I think today’s words give us insight into God’s true nature. And that, of course, is that God is good, and loving, and is long suffering on our behalf, slow to anger and rich in mercy. And that if God is indeed angry with us, as well he should be, he warns us, disciplines us, and even punishes us, not out of meanness or anger, but out of love. This is spelled out in scripture many times.

Today’s reading implies that the people are coming off of some bad times. The Jews had many bad times throughout the years. But God was always ready and willing to take them back. He would say, “ Return to me and I will return to you”.

It’s like the story of the Prodigal Son. The son returns to his dad, repentant , sorry for his sinful behavior, but the dad runs out to meet him.

Like you, I still puzzle over what God might be doing in the world in our time. I continue to reflect on the signs of the times. Last week I told you about the claims of Rabbi Jonathon Cahn in his book called The Harbinger. I continue to read and study his claims.

I also viewed a video commentary by the late great Fr. Benedict Groeschel who hosted four separate shows on EWTN back in late 2001. He asked the big questions too. What might God be up to in our times? And his views, as he himself stated at the outset, were probably going to be unpopular with many people.

So, are you looking for meaning in all of this suffering. Are you fighting off despair? Do you want to make some sense of it all? Well, let me offer some advice. Read your bible. Consider checking out the Office of Readings, The Magnificat, I-brievary. Read the psalms, Read Isaiah. The bible says of itself, that all scripture is profitable for instruction and warning and encouragement and correction.

I maintain that the bible will provide the answers. But there are other ways too.

Use our parish lending library. Read the commentaries, Listen to Ave Maria Radio. Watch EWTN television.

Do you know that Harbinger Study Groups have sprung up all across the country? Would you be interested in starting one? Let me know. Better yet, set up a booth at the upcoming Ministry Fair.

One of the things I said at St. Joes on the Sunday after 9-11 was that people should get their heads out of the sand. I told them that the attacks should be considered a wakeup call. Some people didn’t like my saying that.

Well, I still won’t apologize. I think it’s more true than ever.

What will you do to better understand these times? What will you do to better prepare your family? Or your neighbor? Simple passages or lines from scripture might help when you get called upon to calm some poor quivering soul who is on the verge of despair.
Will you be prepared to tell them that He knows them inside out?

That he knows them by name, and that He loves them very much, despite anything that they may have done to hurt him?

Will you be prepared to tell them that it is not God’s desire that any be lost but that all might return to him, so that he might return to us?

We can close by returning to the original question. What might it be like to be Jesus? Well, you know, we are actually called to… be Jesus. We are told to be imitators of him, to be perfect as the Father is perfect.

And so then, at the end of mass, know that you are sent into the world to glorify God by your life, by being Jesus, to those you meet.

 

 

 

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