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SUNDAY SCRIPTURES FOR JAN. 15 | As the light of the world, we draw attention to Jesus’ presence

When we notice signs of Jesus working in our lives, we should give testimony to them

Do you notice a trace or pattern of cynicism in yourself? Do you tend to disbelieve what you were told or what you see? Do you always start with skepticism? If you can answer yes to any of those questions, the Scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time might give you some guidance on how to begin to believe again.

In our excerpt from the Gospel of John, John the Baptist is again giving testimony to Jesus after baptizing Him. He said he didn’t really know Him well previously, but he had been given a sign of how to recognize that the Messiah had come. “I saw the Spirit come down, like a dove from heaven, and remain upon Him.” This was the sign that he was told to look out for to know the Messiah had come.

From that time on, John the Baptist was able to declare that the kingdom of God was at hand. It is important for us to remember what we have been told to look out for, and to make sure that our eyes and hearts are ready to be aware of those signs, and give testimony to God’s presence when we notice them.

The presence of God is revealed each day on earth. When the blind see and the deaf hear, Jesus has told us that He is present. When the lame walk, and the poor have the Good News preached to them, we know that Jesus is present. It is difficult to notice those signs if we distance ourselves from those most in need. When the hungry have food to eat, when the naked are given clothes to wear, when the thirsty have a drink, the homeless have a place to stay and when the sick and the dying or not alone — each of these are signs that Jesus is truly present. We have been given the gift of the Eucharist, so that we can have food for the journey and make ready the way of the Lord.

From the Prophet Isaiah, we understand that God doesn’t want us to be servants, but to truly be lights to the world. If light does what it is supposed to do, it doesn’t draw attention to itself but it allows other circumstances or situations to be noticed more clearly. If we are the light of the world, then we must help draw attention to the presence of Jesus in the world. It is our mission to draw attention to those who live on the margins of the world and who are neglected. We draw attention to them by serving them in the same way that Jesus serves us. We take what we have, and give it to those who need so that all might see the glory of God, and that we might all have what we need to sustain our lives.

As we become more conscious to the presence of Jesus in our world today, we are to be more brave and less afraid to do what He asked us to do. When He asks us to interact with those who live on the margins we might be afraid or insecure. In the example of Jesus, there is a sacrifice that is made for encountering the poor and lowly. You would think that others who witness acts of charity in love would be excited, and even willing to join in that effort to bring about the kingdom of God. Just like Jesus, we can expect to be judged and belittled, and made fun of simply for our association with the poor. Are we willing to do that and embrace that, or is status with our peers more important?

Ordinary Time in the Church year means just that. How will we take the mystery of the birth of Jesus on this earth, and let it affect how we live today?

Father Donald Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.

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