JANUARY 30, 2010 -  2 SAMUEL 12:1-7A, 10-17 ; MARK 4:35-41

 

WHO IS THIS whom even sea and wind obey? In both readings of today’s liturgy, one of the major issues raises is that of personal identity. Nathan the prophet very adeptly leads David on to a point where the unwary King is confronted with his guilt. “You are the man!” is the punch line in this artfully described encounter. David, who had repressed his feelings of guilt, upon hearing these words, suddenly sees himself in a fresh access of insight as guilty of a serious offence. Once he knows himself in this fresh light he is in a position to acknowledge his responsibility and then to accept the consequences. Doing so eventuates in the restoration of his status as the beloved of God. This reformation of his identity is so complete that he carries on a rule of the chosen people with deserved acclaim. No more is heard of his guilty past; rather, he is remembered as a model of piety and courage and is even considered a type of the Messiah. God’s forgiveness is not only restorative but creative of a newness that surpasses the old in dignity and beauty.

 

This same lesson conveying the creative power of God’s mercy and grace is revealed in the time of Jesus who is hailed as the long-awaited son of David. Mary Magdalene is radically reborn in freshness of soul so that she proves to be one of the few faithful associates of the Immaculate Mother at the foot of the cross. Peter, after his encounter with the Risen Lord, is not only restored to his trusted role at the head of the assembly of disciples, but takes on a fresh identity after Pentecost as a highly courageous and effective witness to the Risen Christ.

 

In the Gospel passage we have just heard the power of Jesus’ word even over the forces of nature is displayed in a way that leads his disciples to an awareness of a more profound dimension to his person than they had earlier been sensitive to. Experiencing the force he possessed to master the storm winds and threatening waves of the sea  leads them to a wonder concerning his real person. “Who is this person possessing such controlling powers?”, they ask themselves.

 

The answer, of course, is already known to the author who records the story: he is the very Son of God. The Father had already acknowledged Jesus as his beloved son, at the river Jordan where he was baptized by John. There we are apprised of his true identity and told to listen to his words. For to listen is more that hearing; it entails taking the meaning spoken. Having been actively admitted into our heart, our Lord’s words prove to be transforming with an energy that comes from the Spirit who descended upon him as he emerged from the water.

 

And so these texts we have just reflected on as we celebrate the Eucharist together this evening are given us as an encouragement to put our hope and our trust in the person of our Savior. His words have a power stronger than nature itself. They prove more vital, filled with greater force not only than the winds and the sea, but overcome death itself. As Martha stated to Jesus upon meeting our Lord on the occasion of Lazarus’ death, “You have the words of everlasting life”. Here at the Eucharist he shares these words with us even as he gives himself to us in a communion that is a pledge that we are destined to possess the life he lives for all eternity in the glory of God, his Father. &  


Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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