Jer 1:4-5, 18-19; 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13; Luke 1:1-4, 4:21-30.

Turning Over Stones

This is one of those weekends where one might have trouble deciding what to preach; for the readings are rich with preachable themes. I will first list some verses that touched me and a brief theme to consider before I elaborate on them.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.

This verse clearly highlights the fact that we are created unique and special. We are not solely a product of biology, chromosomes and genes. We are purposefully brought into this world through the love of God which cooperates with the love shared between husband and wife.

I am reminded here of what I posted a few weeks ago where this same theme appears. The following already-posted material could also work here: I believe that this might be a good weekend to pause and reflect on our relationship with God the Father. The first reading is filled with such beautiful imagery of the kind of love we COULD feel in our relationship with God. In the first reading we hear of a God who delights in his people -- a God who rejoices in his people -- a God who longs to express the kind of intimate, exclusive love one finds in marriage. We can all ask ourselves if we feel this kind of love; that is if we embrace the possibility of truly being in a loving, personal relationship with our God.

Oftentimes Sin and the feeling of unworthiness creeps up in our minds and in our hearts when we contemplate the possibility of a God who loves us. We see sin as an unsurpassable obstacle around which the Love of God has no desire or power to penetrate. We see our relative existence compared to our all powerful God as being so unworthy of recognition that we can not imagine God taking the time or energy to love us as individuals. We have all had daydream moments when we try to imagine God keeping track of all of the billions of individuals in the world and wondering how God could possibly be in a loving, caring, intimate relationship with each person. It boggles our minds and sometimes the darkness of doubt creeps into our hearts about our potentiality to be loved.

Or, perhaps we have gotten caught in the philosophical roller coaster ride where we simultaneously attempt to profess the omnipotence of God AND our capacity to make free will decisions. We ask ourselves -- am I in a dynamic, loving, relationship with God where I feel God can react to my future, free will decisions? Or, do we ask ourselves -- am I simply a puppet on a string who protects the omnipotence of God by rationalizing that what I view as a future, free will decision is simply the reaction to a choice that God already knows I was going to make before I was even born?

Are we in a dynamic, personal relationship with God or a static and sterile relationship? Do we stay in our familiar, human minds and view our relationship with God based on models of relationships from our personal, lived experience or do we try to view our relationship with God from His perspective where unfathomable attributes such as omnipotence operate?

The omnipotence of God and a view of relationship as personal can simultaneously exist. It does not have to be one or the other. However, I believe we do ourselves a disservice when we try to view things from the perspective of God. If we want to feel delighted in, rejoices in, and loved we must view things from our perspective and picture God on a personal level where we are in a one-on-one relationship with Him. All of the relational language that God gives us in the Old Testament is anthropomorphic: love of Father, love of Mother, love of husband, love of a romantic lover. Let us follow the lead of God and find which personal relationship will lead us to a deeper feeling of being truly loved by God.

Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

The theme that emerges here is that of purpose and vocation. One might ask the question -- What is my purpose in life? Does God have a job for me? How am I an instrument of the love and mercy of God? Our vocation in life is probably relatively ordinary compared to that of the Prophet Jeremiah or of Mother Teresa; however, that is where God is also found -- in the ordinary moments of life -- in the work place, at the kitchen table, around the water cooler, on the subway, on the bus, in the department store, in the classroom, in a football stadium and on the little league field. Perhaps a homily can be crafted here from the greatest commandment to simply love God and love one another. This is first and foremost our vocation -- our dedication.

1 Corinthians speaks of Love.

A homily can certainly be crafted here about the mystery and boundlessness of Love. St. Paul writes sentence after sentence about what Love is and about what Love is not; but he never settles upon one particular definition. I am reminded of the question from Moses to God asking the name of God as proof that he has had a personal encounter with the divine. God responds -- tell them that I am who am sent you. Similarly, Love in all its depth can not be defined. Perhaps we need to challenge ourselves to see the boundlessness of love and plug into its power to change the world.

Luke 4:21-30.

Vocation continues to preach in this passage insofar as we should never feel confined by our environments, our histories, or by other peoples expectations. Jesus senses that the crowds will question who he is and what he is capable of because of his familiar environment, his local history being a kid from Nazareth, and by the expectation of the crowds. When he tries to convey who he is and how God does what God wills the crowds get violent. We may ask ourselves in our own lives whether we ever feel paralyzed because of our environments and histories? Are we afraid to do what we feel God is calling us to do because of other peoples expectations? Do we need to simply break out of our molds and freely do what God calls us to do no matter what the consequences? No matter what the reaction of our friends and families?

You do not need a clear agenda, you do not have to see the big picture, you do not need specific goals at this very moment. you simply need to attempt to the will of God right here and right now today and believe that God can work through you.

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