Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 19, 2020
We all have our little idiosyncrasies, those little habits we’ve acquired over time that kind of drive our family and friends a little nuts or at least leads them to look at us and say, “Really?” I’ve got a bucket full, but one of them is this: When the bar of soap gets down to the end, when it gets so small that it’s hard to hang on to, when you can’t squeeze any more lather out of it, what do you do with it? Do you throw it away, or do you do what I do and attach it to the next bar of soap? You know, kind of mold it in so that nothing gets wasted. Maybe it’s the “Swiss” in me, but I have a perpetual bar of soap that spans at least two decades! One bar just goes into the next and that one into the next...
…like Isaiah the prophet. (You made that connection, right?) He was called by God to give God’s people hope, to lead them home, even more, to be a light that would guide all nations. But Isaiah would not live forever; he was called by God at that time for those people in that place. It was all about bringing the people of God to carry on the story of faith that had been revealed to them. So that finally, spent of life and energy, Isaiah could kind of disappear into the next prophet, who would disappear into the next...and the next.
A few weeks ago, during Advent, John the Baptist took up that role of prophet. His message was one of repentance, preparing the people to prepare for the Messiah. Last week we celebrated the further revelation of Jesus as the beloved Son of God at the baptism. Today that story continues as Jesus is revealed as the “Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sin of the world.” Everything John was about was for that purpose, for that cause: to reveal the Christ to the world. That done, like the prophets before him, he is gone, and others would follow, and then others...
Like St. Paul. He knew he would never return to the church in Corinth so he reminds them that they are already sanctified, made holy by Christ. He begins his letter to them with a prayer that the “grace and peace of God the Father” will be with them. He knew that soon he, too, would pass from this world and it would be up to that Church to carry on the Story, to reveal Christ to the next church and the next church …and the next…and the next.
It’s always been the same: Holy women and holy men, some of who are remembered as Saints in the church and countless others who lived and loved and sacrificed so that Christ’s would be revealed to their families and their communities. Grandmas and teachers, evangelists and parents, storytellers and writers and poets. Soldiers and sisters and modern-day prophets, like Martin Luther King, those who dream and envision a better world with Christ. Believers who knew the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ and found a way to tell that Story in such a way that it would never be lost.
Each, in their own way, did what they could do and left the task, then, fall to the next woman who was courageous enough and the next man who was determined enough and the next child who would be creative enough to tell and live the story of God’s love in Jesus Christ, so that our story of faith would be passed on and on and on.
Isn’t that what we do? To do what we can, with the opportunities we have, using every gifts and resource God has entrusted to us until we have nothing left to give. And like a bar of soap, we disappear. But if we have done our part, the next generation will carry on this noble and wonderful task...and the next…and the next.