The Ascension of The Lord – June 2, 2019

AscC19.   Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11.  “Jesus presented himself alive to them by many proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”  Jesus proved to his followers that he not only died to redeem us from our sins but also conquered sin and death, the fruit of sin, by his resurrection from the dead.  Then Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  In turn with the imminent arrival of the Spirit, Jesus departed from this world in his physical, bodily state, ascending up to heaven.  He will return again someday at the end of the universe.

Luke 24:46-53.  Jesus asserts his own prophetic calling to suffer and rise from the dead in order to bring all people to himself through the forgiveness of sins.  Jesus ascends to heaven to make way for the Spirit.

Ephesians 1:17-23.  May “the eyes of your hearts” see the hope for the riches of your glorious inheritance in all eternity that “the surpassing greatness of his power” has worked “for us who believe.”  God’s power has raised Jesus from the dead and then taken him up into heaven to be at his right hand. “And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.”  Jesus ascended gloriously into heaven to have us follow him there.

Hebrew 9:24-28; 1019-23.  Jesus, the unique high priest who offered himself on the cross “once to take away the sins of many,” “will appear a second time,” coming back down from heaven “to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” “Let us hold unwaveringly to our confession that gives us hope, for he who made the promise is trust worthy.”

Psalm 47.    “God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy; the Lord, amid trumpet blasts.” “Sing hymns of praise.  God reigns over the nation.” The One who is gloriously almighty  loves each one of us dearly.

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 26, 2019

East6C19.   Acts of the Apostles 15:1-2, 22-29.   Some of the Jewish converts to Christianity said to the other converts, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.”  They obviously thought that Jesus was the Messiah or Savior only for the Jews, since they were saying that one must Jewish in order to be Christian.  This teaching upset many and disturbed their peace of mind.  Paul and Barnabas were among those who did not accept this understanding of Christianity.  There was much dissension. To decide this issue, the apostles and presbyters met in Jerusalem.  The result was: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage.”  The Holy Spirit inspired them to recognize that salvation comes “through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11) and not through observance of the Mosaic Law.

John 14:232-29.  “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”  God must be respected and treated as God and not as just another person that we to have knowledge of.  As our God, especially as the God who loves us dearly, we owe our submission to his authority over us.  Jesus, who soon no longer was to be physically present, promises to send the God the Holy Spirit to continue the task of bringing salvation to whole world.  Jesus then says, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give to you.”  And then, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  His divine loving presence is always with us.  We need to draw a strength from his presence that will always keep us peaceful, free of fear.  Romans 8:31b reads: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Romans 8:37 reads: “No, in all things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.”  Peace and joy are a sure sign that we are living in Christ.

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23.  “The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God.”  This coming week we will celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven, as the Lamb of God.  This reading prepares us to envision him gloriously there. “I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.  The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”  Our faith is in the person of God.  All the physical things that exist in this world as a part of our faith, the Scriptures, church documents, church buildings, the Church governed from Rome will disappear when Jesus comes the second time because all physical things will disappear.  Their purpose was to help us live our lives out of the presence of God himself who becomes and is our life.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 19, 2019

East5C19.   Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27.    Paul and Barnabas go from place to place establishing the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ among the Gentiles.  As they prepared to leave each place and go on to the next, “they appointed elders for them in each church” so that the work of the church had a firm structure on which to continue until the Second Coming of Jesus.  Finally they went back to Antioch which had been their starting point.  “They called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”  When the Acts of the Apostles speaks of the ‘church’, it is always referring to the people who had chosen to follow Christ.  In the beginning there were no church buildings, only synagogues and peoples’ homes. What makes a building a church is that is where God’s people gather to express and celebrate their faith, individually and communally.

John 13:31-33a, 34-35.  “I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. In John 15:12, Jesus again says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”  Jesus changes the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; Mark 12:31; Matthew 19:19 & 22:39; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8) The measure in Christianity for loving is not how much we love ourselves but rather to love to the degree that Jesus loved and loves us, to the cross.  Secondly, we can love as Jesus loved to the degree that we live in Christ and draw upon his love for us.  Only after we have received God’s love, will we have a love, divinely received, that we can bring to others. Human love is filled with self-interest, giving so that we can receive from the ones to whom we have given. As Christians we ought not so much bring a love that we naturally have for ourselves to others but rather a supernatural love that we have received from Christ to bring to others.  In John 15:5 Jesus said: “I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”  When we do what God has commanded of us, we do it, not out of own resources but out of what we have received from God. 1 John 4:19 reads: “We love because he first loved us.” To have any spiritual resources or grace we must remain in him as he remains in us. (John15:4a)  In John 17:26 Jesus said: “I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”  When we love as Christ has loved, all will know that we are his disciples.

The sign that Jesus’ passion and death is to begin is Judas’ departure from the Last Supper.  Then Jesus says, “Now is the son of Man glorified.”  His astounding act of love in his offering of himself to redeem us not only gives him glory but also the Father glory.  1 John 4:10 reads: “In this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Revelation 21:1-5a.  God will and does now dwell with the human race “and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God.”  “The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”  God takes all that was fallen and lost and makes it new by his love.

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 12, 2019

East4C19.   Acts of the Apostles 13:14, 43-52.  Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to the synagogue to announce Jesus as the Messiah.  The next Sabbath the crowds that came to hear Paul and Barnabas were so great that the Jews “were filled with jealousy and contradicted them with violent abuse.”  To the delight of the Gentiles Paul and Barnabas announced to the Gentiles that they were now invited to follow Jesus because the Jews had rejected him.  The Jews “stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.” “The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.”  To follow Christ is a joy in part because discipleship means that God the Holy Spirit lives in us giving us his heavenly life. This first reading says, “All who were destined for eternal life came to believe.”  I understand this to mean that God can see the future and know who will freely choose Christ and those who will choose to reject him.

John 10:27-30.  Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  Jesus takes possession of those who have chosen to belong to him.  We listen to him as the only one who has eternal truth and follow him personally each day throughout the day.  We live with great joy because of the security we have knowing that he will never abandon us but will fiercely fight to keep us as his loyal sheep.  Jesus asserts that he says these things, not as only a human being but as God Himself.  His allegiance to us is based on his divinity and can never fail.

Psalm 100.   Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.”  In Matthew 16:24, “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me (follow me) must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.’”  I believe that the cross that is essential to be being Christian is that we must reject belonging to ourselves and our own will but rather to radically accept that we belong to God and his will alone.  To accept the status of being his sheep we must reject personal independence and live in total dependence on Jesus our Shepherd.  He is God alone.  Human nature, every moment of our lives, calls upon us to be independent, god of our own lives.  As long as we live on this earth we only successfully challenge our human nature with the endless help of the Holy Spirit.  Only he can enable us to live as true sheep of Jesus, the Shepherd.

Revelation 7:9, 14b-17.  “John had a vision of a great multitude,” which “stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.”  Massive numbers of saints who had attained heaven stood before their all-powerful God.  They survived great persecution and attained the glory of the crown of martyrdom.  The Lamb, Jesus who offered himself up as the sacrificial offering to redeem us from our sins, shepherded them to heaven.  God wiped “away every tear from their eyes.”

 

Third Sunday of Easter – May 5, 2019

East3C19.   Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41.  “The high priest questioned them, ‘We gave you strict orders, did we not, to stop teaching in that name?’” “But Peter and the apostles said in reply, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” “After recalling the apostles, the Sanhedrin had them flogged, (this Sunday’s excerpt does not include these previous words) ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” (Jesus)  How can intense pain be a cause for rejoicing?  When our love for Jesus is even greater than the pain, what a joy it is to suffer for the one we love because the depth of our love enables us to have a life that is even deeper than our pain!  In the fishing event at the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus speaks to the apostles not with words but rather through what they experienced with Jesus.  The nets were empty, then the nets were full.  Without Christ there is nothing; with Christ there is everything!

John 21:1-19.   Certain of the apostles fished all “that night (but) they caught nothing.”  When Jesus who was on the shore heard that they caught nothing, “he said to them, ‘Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.’ So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.”  Then they realized it was the Lord!  The symbolism is clear. If the Apostles tried to bring in followers of Jesus by their own efforts alone, it was fruitless but with Jesus at their side all was gain.  Then it is said in response to the three times Peter denied Jesus, now he asserts three times that he loves him, but with each question Jesus is calling upon Peter to commit himself to growing into an endlessly ever-deepening love for him.  Peter will be the principal shepherd who brings sheep, people to follow to Jesus.  Jesus tells Peter that, as he once had to suffer flogging for the sake of the name, he will now suffer death to glorify God.  Then he commands Peter to follow him on the way to the cross and then to resurrection.

Revelation 5:11-14.  John heard the voices of many angels crying out loudly, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.”  And then, “everything in the universe, cry out: ‘To the one who sits on the throne and to the lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.’” Praise of God, worshipping God recognizes through our voices and action the truth and reality of who God is.  In our world God plays ‘hide and seek’.  As we grow in our faith life or life that is a faith that becomes who we are, God reveals increasingly even more of himself.  His glory astounds us ever more and more, eliciting from us an ever growing joy in our amazement at the awesomeness that is God.

Second Sunday of Easter – April 28, 2019

East2C.   Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16.    “Many signs and wonders were done at the hands of the apostles.”  When Jesus himself walked among the people, he called upon them to believe in him because of the miraculous works he performed. In John 14:11 Jesus said, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.”  The miraculous works of the apostles were signs that God the Father was as work in them.

John 20:19-31.  The disciples of Jesus feared the physical violence that the Jewish authorities could inflicted on them as they did to Jesus.  Jesus assures them saying, “Peace be with you,” since he was with them.  He sends them forth with the divine power of the Holy Spirit to bring his redemption of sins to those whom they find worthy or withhold it from those they find unworthy.  Jesus himself will no longer be physically and visibly here; and so he sends them in his place to do accomplish his mission and will in this world.  Later Thomas announces that he believes that Jesus’ death on the cross was final and could not possibly be reversed.  He was a man firmly grounded in the common sense ways of this world. He was not going to be swayed by what seemed to clearly be nonsense.  Jesus could have easily said to Matthew as he did to Peter in Mark 8:33: “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Jesus showed Thomas physical proof of his resurrection in the nailmarks in his body just as he demonstrated to the apostles that he was not a ghost or spirit but a real physical person when he ate the baked fish.  When we see physical, material proof, then we have knowledge of that reality.  They did not have to believe or have faith in what they did not see with their own eyes.  I think that Jesus gave them this knowledge of his resurrection so that no one could reasonably claim that Jesus’ resurrection was figment of their imagination and not a genuinely reality.  And so Jesus says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”  1 Peter 1:8a says, “Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him.”  This Sunday’s Gospel finishes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”  The Scriptures are given to us as a divine way to come to know that the love with which the Father loved Jesus may be in us and Jesus himself may be in us.  (John 17:26b)  The divine revelation that  Scriptures make known to us is not so much words or sentences about Jesus but the presence of Jesus his very self in our lives.

Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19.  This reading begins, “I, John, your brother, who share with you the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,..” As Jesus suffered physical violence so did many of his followers.  Persecution for their faith caused them great distress.  However, Jesus always accompanied them giving a sense that already they were a part of his kingdom.   He gave them the strength to endure through it all.  He gives us that same strength in our times of temptations and difficulties.  Jesus says of himself, “Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.  I hold the keys to death and the netherworld.”  We ask him to protect us by keeping the doors of that world locked for us but rather open the doors to life forever in heaven.

Easter Sunday – April 21, 2019

EasterC19.   Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43.  God commissioned the apostles to preach and testify that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.” “They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.  This man God raised on the third day.”  “He is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead.”  “Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”  The man who died on the cross was Jesus in his humanity, not Jesus in his divinity.  Divinity cannot die.  If it could, divinity would not be divine.  Nevertheless the humanity and divinity of Jesus were so intimately bound together that we can say that in Christ God the Son sacrificed himself through his humanity to God the Father to give the only divine level of sacrifice that would be the adequate sacrifice for our sins, since the One offended by our sins is divine.  Only a sacrifice that was divine could satisfy for sins against divinity.

John 20:1-9. Mary of Magdala “saw the stone removed from the tomb.” She told Peter and John who went into the tomb.  John and more than likely Peter also, “saw and believed.  For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.” What did they believe from what they saw?  I understand that what they believed was what Mary said, “They have taken from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”  Before Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection, they, as with the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “did not yet understand that he had to rise from the dead.”  Jesus had to actually to appear to them bodily and humanly so that he could, as it says in our first reading, make them witnesses, “who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”  Jesus was truly dead and truly came back to life here in this world. He was not present to them just as a memory from the past but actually physically returned to be with them as the Jesus, once dead but now risen back to life in this world.  Our Jesus has conquered sin through his sacrifice of himself on the cross.  He also conquered the death that came from sin.  He has given his victory to us so that we may be former sinners come to a new life, as saints.

Colossians 3:1-4. “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.”  Paul calls to mind what Jesus said, “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.” (John 17:16)   And once again, when Peter rejected Jesus’ prophesy that he had to die on the cross, Jesus said, “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Matthew 17:23c)  As human beings from birth we become imbued with the ways of this world.   Jesus and Paul call upon us to be like fish out of water, being more heavenly than earthly while we are still here on earth.  In Luke 18:27 Jesus said, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.”  God enables us to die to the ways of this world even while we are in this world, since he replaces our inner earthly life with a share of life from his divine life.  We refer to that divine life within us as sanctifying grace.  In a sense we die to a worldly life so to rise to a heavenly life.  “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.  When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.”  We are sinners redeemed from our sins by his redeeming sacrifice on the cross.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – April 14, 2019

PalmC19. Isaiah 50:4-7. This is the prophecy of the Suffering Servant, probably Isaiah speaking of himself but in Holy Week transferred to Jesus. “My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.”

Psalm 22. Jesus repeats the first verse: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” while on the cross as if to start saying the whole psalm. “All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: ‘He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him.’” Jesus genuinely feels the excruciating pain of his body and the insults. This is not a sham sacrifice to the Father for our sins; this is the real thing wholly and completely. By this genuine sacrifice of himself to His Father, we are redeemed. It could be nothing less. How great is his love for us! In spite of the unfathomable horror he is enduring, he never losses faith in the Father, saying to him, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Luke 22:14 – 23:56. Jesus, referring to the sacrifice he was about to make, offers up in the Eucharistic form his own body, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” Although the bread visually appears to be only bread, it now comes in substance to be his body which he himself offers up and commands us to do likewise in our Mass. Jesus continues the tradition of the Old Testament Law of consuming the flesh of the sacrifice by those who offer it up. Leviticus 7:6 reads, “All the males of the priestly line may partake of it; but it must be eaten in a sacred place, since it is most sacred.” Leviticus 7:15a says, “The flesh of the thanksgiving sacrifice shall be eaten on the day it is offered.” The sacrifice on the cross happened then once and for all; the Mass re-presents that same sacrifice over and over again. Please read John 6:53-57. Jesus becomes the food and indeed the spiritual life itself of our being. “Then an argument broke out among them about which of them should be regarded as the greatest. Jesus makes it clear to them that service, love in action, is the measure of greatness. He proclaims to them they will have a special place in his kingdom in heaven. In the Our Father prayer Jesus teaches to pray, “Thy kingdom come” to God the Father, which I believe calls upon the Father to establish his kingdom here in the hearts of those who believe in his Son Jesus. Both Pilate and the ‘good thief’ find that Jesus is not guilty of any crime. Nevertheless Pilate allow Jesus to be put to death, since it was politically expedient not to have news of a big riot get back to the emperor. On the other hand, the ‘good thief’ rebukes the other crucified thief out of respect for what is righteous. As with the Apostles, Jesus rewards him with a place in heaven. That is the same reward that we seek because of our loyalty to Christ our King. We want to live eternally in the love of the Christ who loved us so deeply and dearly that he died for us on the cross.

Philippians 2:6-11. God, though magnificently almighty, out the depths of his love for the human beings he created, became a creature of his own creation, a helpless fetus and then infant, genuinely and totally dependent upon another creature, his mother Mary. “He emptied himself,” taking on humanity so that one day he could offer himself as the redemptive sacrifice on the cross. “Because of this, God greatly exalted him” so that “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Fifth Sunday of Lent – April 7, 2019

5LC19. Isaiah 43:16-21 & Psalm 126. The almighty God has done wondrous things for his people, parting the sea and destroying the army that set out to destroy his people. To form a people for himself he led them through the desert, giving them water to drink and food to eat. His people praise him for the great things he did for them by leading them out of captivity from both Egypt and Babylon. They come back rejoicing. God saved his People!

John 8:1-11. The Pharisees and scribes brought to Jesus a woman caught in adultery so that they could test him. If he agreed that she should be stoned, then he could be brought before the Roman authorities who forbade executions without their permission. On the other hand, if Jesus refused to allow her to be stoned to death, he could be brought before the Jewish authorities for disobeying what Moses had prescribed. The genius of Jesus is that he put the decision right back into their hands with the stipulation that “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” That put the onus on each individual to declare by his action that he was without sin. That community of Jews knew one another well enough so as to know who was innocent and who was not among them. What Jesus wrote on the ground is not stated but I think we can guess that he wrote things that challenged their innocence. So they all left one by one. John the Evangelist often uses language on two levels of meaning, literally and figuratively or metaphorically. Here perhaps he is using the phrase “Jesus bent down” to say he went down to the lower level to deal with sin and then “Jesus straightened up” to say he went up to a higher level to raise the standards to a higher level that is virtue. The adulterous woman is sent off to live at that higher level. Jesus said in John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”

Philippians 3:8-14. Paul’s expression of his personal faith is a wonderful summary of what we should all be living for. Paul has come to know the invisible Jesus both personally and spiritually. Now living his life in Christ, anything else in this world that is not in tune with that relationship with Jesus feels to him to be just “so much rubbish.” Paul seems to me to be saying: ‘I am nothing if Christ is not my life; I have everything’ “since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ Jesus.” In many of his epistles Paul reflects a rejection of the kind of religious life that many of the Jews seem to have had in his day that made the rituals and regulations of the Law to be as a god for them without actively having God himself as the supreme ruler of their lives. However, as long as we are in this world, the struggle is not finished. Paul writes, ‘I am’ “straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, Christ Jesus.” Let us join him! As for the adulterous woman and Paul, Christ Jesus is our eternal salvation.

Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 31, 2019

4LC19. Joshua 5:9a, 10-12. God has led the Israelite people across the Jordan. Then “the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.’” I understand the ‘reproach’ that God has removed to be the shame, disgrace or dishonor of their subjection to a state of slavery to the Egyptians. God’s promise to give them a land overflowing with milk and honey is now in the process of being fulfilled. Their exodus from Egypt began with the celebration of the Passover and now ends outside Jericho with that same celebration. God’s loving mercy has powerfully delivered what was tragically lost to become something whole, holy and new: the Israelite People in possession of their own land.

Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. Jesus answers the complaint of the Pharisees and scribes that “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” in this 15th chapter of Luke with three parables. The first two parables in Luke 15:4-10 of the ‘Lost Coin’ and the ‘Lost Sheep’ (which are not included in this Sunday’s reading) come to the same conclusion as the third parable of the ‘Prodigal or Lost Son’: God rejoices that those who were lost to sin are now found so that they can return to a proper relationship with God, holiness. The younger son on demanding that he now get his inheritance without having to wait until his father dies is in effect saying to his father ‘as far as I am concerned I now consider you dead’. He then leaves to squander his part of his family’s hard earned fortune on a period of dissipation with prostitutes. Penniless, with nothing to eat, he decides to return to his father, no longer as his son since he had considered his father as dead to get his inheritance, but as a hired hand. On his return, “while he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.” Although the younger son just tries to get a job from his father, the father will have nothing of that since he loves his son so deeply. He welcomes his son with the finest robe, a ring, sandals and a spectacular feast, since his son “was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.” It struck me that this will be the kind of celebration that there will be when a repentant sinner gets to heaven. In Jesus’ three parables in Luke 15 those who were lost but whom Jesus is now seeking to have returned to a state of holiness are analogous to the sinners that the Pharisees and the scribes are complaining about. In turn the older son is analogous to the Pharisees and the scribes who have always been obedient to the Law. Jesus is saying that they should be of the same mind as the father in the parable who rejoices at the return of the sinner to be reconciled to God, the Father. As God’s love is merciful, so should we be.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21. “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation.” The question is what does it mean to be “in Christ.” 1 John 4:16 says, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” Whoever remains in God’s love for us remains in God. 1 John 5:12 says, “Whoever possesses the Son has life; whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.” I have God; God has me. Without God, life is as material life is, that ends in rot. In John 6:53b, Jesus says “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” In John 6:56, Jesus says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” To be “in Christ,” means that Christ is our life; neither we nor anything or anyone is our life but Christ. Christ is everything for us; anything or anyone else is nothing to us, except to the degree that we relate to it or them out of our relationship to Christ. Carrying that a step further is to say, “We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.” Since we have found such peace, joy and truth from our life in Christ, we ought to strive to bring everyone into that same relationship with Christ. As we are in Christ, everyone should also be in Christ. We are ambassadors from a spiritual world to a people who belong in heart and mind to an earthly world that does not relate to spiritual reality. We have the ministry of reconciliation, i.e. to reconcile or re-establish the proper relationship between God and ourselves and others around us, to bring, not only ourselves but, all to be in Christ.