Dec 8, 2018

Eyewitness News



The portion of the Scripture we have just listened to, written by the pen of St. Luke the Evangelist, does not begin with “once upon a time”. It begins with “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar when Pontius Pilate was governor when Herod ruled Galilee when Annas and Caiaphas were high priests….” 

He wrote these words nearly two thousand years ago, as an observer of the world and a writer of real-time events reported to him from the many eyewitnesses from his day. He was not recording a history lesson. He was pointing to events as they unfolded.

Baptized into the same community of believers as he was, disciples of the same Christ who lived in his heart, today we are his successors, we continue the same work begun by St. Luke. And like him, we too are acutely aware of the type of world we live in.  

Like St. Luke who, before he put pen to paper to tell the world the Good News of Christ’s coming, we too have access to so many eyewitnesses of history. We too are conscious of the affairs of the world, of local events, national and even global incidents even as they happen. Into this world, this same world, where history continues to run its course, we too announce that God made his home - that God still makes his home among us.

The Roman Emperor, Tiberius Caesar, may not be around today, but there are many who have taken his place. Pontius Pilate is dead and buried somewhere, but there are today many who are like him. There are many tyrants who share the same traits as Herod of long ago, there are present-day High Priests of the same attitudes of Annas and Caiaphas.  Their names may have changed, but many of the ghosts of yesterday still are with us in various shapes and shades. We are witnesses.  

But St. Luke, the evangelist, was also a physician, a doctor, a medic. His vocation was to first and foremost offer to heal, mend human bodies, recommend remedies and treatments for those who were sick, injured or wounded by life.  As a Christian disciple, when he reflected on the life of Christ he was aware of the relationship between the body and the soul, the physical and the spiritual.  His Gospel, which will guide us on Sundays throughout the coming year, will allow us to accompany Christ through the corridors of what we could call a global hospital, where wounded humanity often still lies on stretchers with wounds still unattended. Then, like now, we still struggle with so many injuries and trauma - the result of neglect, injustice, violence, oppression, addiction, fear and loneliness.  We still call upon Christ, the doctor of our souls, as the only one who can heal our restless spirit and bring peace to troubled lives, and calm our fears even in the midst of the battlefield of life.

It is within this context, our own context, and circumstances, that the Church once again takes up the medical kit.  From the smoldering ruins, in the midst of the battlefield, even when we find ourselves still under fire, still struggling to win the day, a voice like that of John the Baptist is heard shouting “Make way! Make way for the injured. Make way for the healer!”

There has to be a John the Baptist in each one of us - making inroads so that we can bring home injured souls and wounded hearts to Christ, the Healer of Bodies and Souls - beginning with ourselves.  Because Christ himself is the visible image of the invisible God, who is all kindness and tenderness, the healing begins when we are not afraid of his own heartfelt and gentle gaze, his compassion, and love for fallen humanity.  Christ, our merciful Savior has entered into the events of our time and our history not simply to save us from enemies. It's how he does so, by healing us. 

How?

The Prayer over the Offerings tells us. " Since we have no merits to plead our cause, come, we pray, to our rescue with the protection [not with right dogma, ethical standards, or a political science vision of society].... come we pray, to our resuce with the protection of your mercy".

Mary, mother of all the afflicted, pray for us.

Joseph

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