Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

The Christ of God


Scripture readings for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time can be found athttp://usccb.org/bible/readings/061916.cfm

Who do people say that the candidates for president are? The last primary was last Tuesday in Washington, D.C., but while we know who the candidates with the most delegates are, who are these people? Some say that one is a threat to the economy, world peace, and our lives as Ameicans. The other, for some, is the hope of the future, the leader with strength, and the one who will rescue the country from all that ails us. People say a lot of things. Only one thing is certain: no candidate is the Messiah.

During the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were under the control of Roman occupation. They longed for a political leader that will rescue them from these brutal oppressors. Many saw Jesus as one of the candidates for their eventual savior. Was he a John the Baptist (a popular outsider with a new and exciting message), Elijah, one of the "old faithful" (who was promised by the prophet Malachi to return) or was he an ancient prophet from the dead - because the only heroes are in the past, right?

God's vindication in the "Christ" would be the final defeat of and retribution of their enemies. Instead of fulfilling the people's dream that God's Anointed one would inflict great suffering on the Romans, this Messiah would suffer at the hands of their own leadership

This Messiah is not good at winning baseball games, picking the right lottery numbers, paying off mortgages, finding a cure for cancer, or getting our grandchildren to church. This Messiah does not guarantee that the best person for any country will win an election. The Jesus of the New Testement will always prove to be a disappointment to the expectations of victory and triumph.

Rather, Jesus leads us to places we've never dreamed of and, if we're honest, never really hoped for. The Messiah leads us to self-denial. Rather than a simple denial of certain things in our lives, the Messiah mandates a rejection of a life based on self-interest and self-fulfillment. The Messiah leads us to the cross. Struggling to love and serve our communities and our families can be a heavy burden to bear. Caring for an imperfect Church, a loved one in difficulty, or the sick and mentally challenged who have nothing to offer in return is a yeoman's task.

The Messiah asks us to follow Him. Our job is not to manipulate God into doing what we want. As Christians, we cannot believe that things happen by chance; each moment of conflict and of compassion is the place where Christ invites us to die and rise with Him for the cost of love. He goes before us.

Jesus is the Christ. He really does bring salvation to humanity, but He leads us to all that God hopes humanity to become. We have been created in grace to live and love beyond ourselves and to follow  Christ's lead. That path leads to the "other" who needs our death to self so that they might know the compassion and mercy of God. No candidate for election could ever win on that kind of platform - but then again, neither did Jesus.

What do people say the Eucharist is? Some say a symbol; some say a ritual meal. Others know that it is the Paschal Mystery - the dying and rising of Jesus again for us: the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Only in a love born if sacrifice  can we have communion with Him and with one another. Today, we say "Amen" to the Body of Christ and to anywhere He leads us when we walk out of the church doors.

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