There are four choices for the first reading if you check the link that is the first sentence of this post. The two that really speak to me most are the second and third options, Isaiah 55:1-11 and Acts 10:35-38, respectively.
From Isaiah, we hear this…
Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I love that – the invitation to one and all, to come, come to the water! All are invited – and that means all and always. Now, everyone may be at different stages in the journey, but all are always welcome. When I hear Catholics, often with good intentions, talk about the tribulations and so forth and how we are being punished for our wickedness, I get very sad. That is not our theology, that is not our church.
Of course we are the church and as humans, we tend to get it wrong a lot. I know – some may say that I am wrong, but if that is the case, then so be it. Do we really want a God who does not invite all?
From Acts we hear this…
Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
Yes – God shows no partiality. And yes – whoever fears him and acts uprightly is indeed acceptable. The whole thing – again, at least as I have learned our faith – is that we are all works in progress. So maybe some folks do not fear and/or act uprightly… however, how do we know when one’s heart is changed? It could be a deathbed confession that changes everything. So we just do not know. That is why we pray for all of our departed – because we have hope for all.
When I saw this sign in New York City in October, I walked right by it and then I did a double take and walked back to look at it again. I snapped this photo, knowing that it would come in handy one day.
Church is like this sometimes – we want to keep some folks out. Honestly, I hope they all come in! And keep coming. How else do we change? How else do we let God get at us? If you have other thoughts, I’d love to know what they are or why. However, in light of the Gospel, nothing else makes sense to me.
And what about today’s Gospel, from Mark 1:7-11. It is always worth noting that Mark likes to be succinct. (And this is from the beginning of his Gospel and does not start with the nativity.)
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
That is God speaking to Jesus, but it is actually what God wants to say to all of us. It can be hard for us to hear it about ourselves – and harder yet to believe it for others. Forget those we don’t love, even for those we do purport to love! Yet, this is God speaking to all of us.
The promise of baptism is that we are all called. We are called to be prophet, priest and king – everyone of us. Why would we keep ourselves and anyone else from that?
Someone that I know reminded me to think of the last line of this Gospel frequently. I’m going to try to do that – care to join me?
(I love to post songs, so please enjoy this version of Come to The Water)