This week as we reflect on the scriptures we are reminded of the significant role Prophesy must be in our lives and the lives of our nation. As we look at the Gospel following the Baptism of Jesus we find St. John the Baptist pointing to Jesus. He says, ““Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” You see John had encountered and experienced the presence of God in His only Son Jesus, and He is pointing to the one that they had hoped for. The people of Israel were centuries waiting for “The One”. The Messiah, the anointed one, or the Christ was the reason for John coming into the world. John does the prophetic action of pointing out and showing the people, that in Jesus, the anointed One of God is where you true hope is found.
You see like John the Baptist we are called to point the way. To see beyond the struggles and challenges of the day to recognize that in Jesus there is true hope for our tomorrow. We need not live in fear and despair like John we can point to a better way. John become a model for us that we are to be a prophetic people. We are called to be women and men not afraid to stand up for righteousness, to stand against bigotry, prejudice and hatred. You see one cannot be a Catholic and be prejudice and exclusive. The nature of our faith is that we must be prophetic. We must speak and criticize and energize God’s People. Calling them out of themselves and their limitedness, smallness and self-centeredness to see in the other an opportunity to be brought to a higher level of equality and inclusion.
This week our nation pauses to remember a modern prophet for our time. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. he was a prophet for our day. His prophetic voice and witness called out the best in America. It called us to see in the face of the other our sister or our brother. It doesn’t matter if we are White or Black, Jewish or Catholic, Protestant or Muslim, we are all belonging to the same God. Martin reminded us of our greatness as a nation. No matter where you came from, no matter what language you speak, no matter how you worship, that we are a nation that is for all and welcomes all.
As Church we are called even more to embody this ideal of equality and dignity of all persons. As a Church, within the parish the diocese and globally we must be inclusive and prophetic. When people are on the margins having lost everything, we cannot demand they be like us. Like turning a switch and saying you hear now, do as we do, speak as we speak, be like us! As Church we receive all people as they are where they are on their journey. Not only do we receive them but we welcome them. The Church must be inclusive to all. The Christian community must be a people that sees and values to presence of all, even if they look different and speak differently than us. We don’t put a requirement on those who come to our doors. We must receive all, and all means all as though we would see and receive Christ.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I believe all Americans who believe in freedom, tolerance and human rights have a responsibility to oppose bigotry and prejudice.. ~ Coretta Scott King
I close with this thought. During our first gathering of youth from the two parishes now combined, Transfiguration and St. Joseph a new youth said about St. Joseph. Although he is as from an immigrant family and speaks Spanish as well as English, he said and I Quote, with a smile on his face, “I feel Welcome!” Let us keep this sentiment alive and reject exclusion and sentiments of requirements on our members. All must have that same feeling no matter what they look like or what language they speak. All are welcome and we don’t place requirements on being members of St. Joseph Church.