Hands up I admit it
In this installment, I’m coming clean: I believe in God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that scripture is the Word of God, and I believe that reading it and praying it will lead us to a better life in this world and lead us to eternal life.
Spiritual motivation (and I’m not referring to free booze) is the ultimate motivator, and I don’t mean listening to a sermon or pulling a long face (Jesus had something to say about long faces), but hearing comes into it.
A baptism and a wedding
If you’re anything like our family, baptisms, weddings, and, alas, funerals are the only times we see each other. They can (all three) be joyous occasions when there is a sense of thankfulness, of witnessing to love shared, and traditions passed on. There are tales told, laughs enjoyed, and tears shed, in other words, life. They celebrate key moments in our lives and in the lives of others.
We’ll talk one day soon about the ultimate key moment, but for now I just want to share some thoughts on the hatch and match, because in the next two weeks in the Liturgy of the Word on Sunday we’ll see Jesus at both.
The baptism is his own; the wedding is someone else’s and, yes, his mother puts her oar in; families!
We’ve all been there; the point of no return; the Rubicon, the ratchet point, whatever. If we move one more step, physically or metaphorically, things will never be the same, and we can’t go back. We move into a new country, with uncertain terrain, and exciting, if dangerous, new possibilities. It happens time and time again in the Bible and it happened in Jesus’ life.
At his baptism, Jesus would emerge from a largely hidden, private life, to a public ministry, and at the Wedding Feast at Cana, he would reveal his power and what it meant. From these events onwards, there would be no turning back.
Wine and water
All of it was a little odd, though. First of all, Jesus was baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, who said himself that he was not worthy to undo Jesus’ sandal strap, never mind baptize him.
Yet, there are similarities between Jesus and the others who came to John for baptism: they wanted to celebrate a concrete event that would mark their passing over from one kind of life to another; so did Jesus. But Jesus’ crossing over into a new stage of his life would have significance for billions.
And why does John the evangelist make such a song and dance (no pun intended) about what could be seen as a parlour trick at a wedding, changing water into wine?
Well, his disciples and his (‘interfering’) mother knew exactly what that was about – letting power be seen at a wedding was much more than saving the social standing of a couple out of compassion (though I still think it was that too), it was about showing that the end times had come; the messianic banquet was close; there was no going back.
Water and wine in our Church symbolize new life, sacrifice and celebration; a bringing together of ourselves with God. This is what symbol originally meant, a bringing together.
Using created things that are full of meaning for us, God brings about a change in us, inviting us to cross over, take another step towards him, just as Jesus crossed into a life that would change everything.
The right word at the right time
But we need encouragement; we need love; we need community; we need support. We can’t do it on our own. Arriving at a point in our lives when we realize that we need to make a decision, crossing over from one well known way of life to another, needs the right word at the right time at the right place.
We can listen to a scripture passage, celebrate a sacrament, have an insight as to what we should do, but unless we hear the encouraging word at the apposite (lovely word) moment, we’ll just freeze. Spiritual motivation comes about when we hear, not just see, what we have to do.
Let’s bring it all together. We have relaxed, stopped judging ourselves, others, our lives. We’ve admitted the feelings and we’ve played the video of our daily doings.
We’ve let the insight build and the vision is 20/20 – we see what it is we must do…and we’re stuck!
There are also some ‘My Day by Day’ books left at the back of the churches, and we can always take home our mass sheet.
Watch Jesus and listen to the words that are spoken, by him, by his Father, by his mother, by others. Listen. The right word will come, if we give it time.
Be patient with yourself and be patient with God!