4th Sunday Ordinary Time
Deacon Tom Vert
Preached: January 27, 2024
“Is it authentic?”
If you are like me, now and then, I find myself watching episodes of the “Antiques Road Show”.
I watch to see if the old painting is just something for the garage, or a true find that is genuine and should be in a museum.
Or the piece of furniture that has been a family coffee table for many years that should stay that way, or it should be sold for $15,000! This search for authentic versus the pretend draws us in and it is so fun to watch!
This search for the authentic is mentioned in both the first reading and the gospel today, as we see the people astonished and amazed, not at a coffee table, but at the words and presence of Christ.Jesus was authentic, because he knew who he was, as the Son of God incarnated into the world, to show us who God is. He lived his message not trying to be a politician, or a powerful leader or debate with the authorities in the courts and parliaments of the time.
Instead, he walked among the people, engaged, and interacted with all of those around him no matter their status or life journey.
His message resonated with the people because he was authentic, not like the other religious leaders of the time.
We hear that “the people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. It was “a new teaching with authority.” which means that Jesus used his personal authenticity to project his message versus the scribes who recited the scriptures, previous laws, or rabbinical teachings, but they did not live their message.
Jesus, we know talked about the scribes and Pharisees., and was very hard on them “But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
He called them snakes, vipers, hypocrites, blind fools and guides because they did not live what the preached…they were not authentic!
The people saw that Jesus was authentic:
When he showed God’s forgiveness to the women who was to be stoned. Who of you is perfect and can throw the first stone?
When he showed God’s love as he wept for his friend Lazarus – see how he cares!
When he showed God’s helping nature as he wrapped a towel around his waist and washed his disciples’ feet.
When he showed his love for the poor by eating with them. This authenticity resonated and the crowds followed Christ everywhere he went.
We also follow Jesus because of this same genuineness, this same authenticity, we
know the truth is there in his life and his message.
So, it begs the question, what do we have to do to be authentic Catholic Christians whose lives will shine forth like light for others to see?
I would offer up three things:
First, we need to admit that we need God in our lives, that we cannot go it alone, and put ourselves in His hands and accept his gift of love. In my own faith journey, I distinctly remember one moment. I was driving home from Dofasco, working way too many hours, young kids at home and I was totally stressed out.
I remember pulling off to the side of the road and praying to God saying “I can’t do this on my own anymore, please take these burdens from me and lead me in how I should be living my life. It felt as if a 100-pound weight was lifted off my shoulders, I was relieved and I have relied on him ever since.
I continue to ask God to help me, as I know that I could never live the Christian journey of faith by more own power and strength.
This first step is seen in scripture so many times! We are to admit that we are sinners, the same as St. Peter (go away from me as I am a sinful man) or the centurion (I am not worthy that you should come under my roof!) – that is why we say it when we receive the Eucharist – we admit that we need God!
Secondly, we need to strive to maintain a close connection with him through prayer (a genuine conversation sharing our joys, sorrows, worries and cares) and through the sacraments, which allow Him to touch us in a unique way.
We see Jesus slip away for a time of prayer or go the hills to connect with his Father. In his time of most need, in the garden of Gethsemane, he kneels and prays to God. His connection with God is close, and we are called to that same close relationship by God.
And finally, we need to be thankful for the gift of His love and being in relationship with us, and to thank him for this gift, we are called to go out and tell others by our words, and most importantly by our actions!
We show this faith by doing what Christ told us to: “we must love one another as I have loved you!” To take the time to listen to one another! This past weekend, we had the opportunity to spend time talking and listening with other couples. We found out that 50% of us had miscarriages and none of us ever knew. It was a great moment that showed me that we need to slow down and spend time with others.
These are incredible challenges that we can achieve, but of course, only with God’s support and help.
So, this week, maybe take a few minutes, think about your personal relationship with God and ask yourself one question: “Is it authentic?”