Didn't You Get the Message (Messenger)?

by Mark Kurowski | MySpiritualAdvisor2018

#DidntYouGetTheMessenger is the podcast for December 10, 2017 (2nd Sunday of Advent). John the Baptist is important to the “Good News” because he is the link to the Hebrews’ past. “Did You Get the Message (Messenger)?” ties Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, Jesus, and the modern Church together. What are you doing Sundays and every other day of the week?  Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone.#Mark1 #Fulfillment #Advent #Advent2 #Elijah #Pharoah #Egypt #Plagues #Seder #Hairy

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For The Church of Saint Raphael the Archangel, Munster, IN and My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday,   12/10/2017  The 2nd   Sunday of Advent.

Please pause this audio and read Mark 1:1-8.

I know we are in Advent, talking about getting ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and for the celebration of his birth, but I want us to go to the first night of the Passover. Some folks celebrate the Seder meal, which is the meal that hearkens us back to the night before the 10th plague came over the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt. If you recall, there were nine plagues given to Pharaoh that Moses announced to get Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go.   The final plague was the plague of the death of the first born.

Everyone was to slaughter a lamb without blemish and put the blood on the doorposts. As the angel of death descended upon Egypt, those homes with the blood on the doorposts and lentils, would be “Passed over”.  Thus, the first born in the house would live.

The Hebrews were to cook the lamb and all were to eat it as if they were grabbing a holy drive thru on their way out of town. Jews today remember that event, and that meal, with the Seder meal eaten on the first night of Passover.

Fast forward to the establishment of Israel and Elijah the prophet. He constantly challenged the Kings of Israel to not be caught up with themselves as the chosen people, but to serve the Lord. He was considered the Prophet of all prophets. Elijah called down fire from heaven to burn up the offering before the prophets of Baal. He took on King Ahab and the feared Jezebel. He was hairy, lived in the wilderness, and ate off the land and the provision of God.  As my daughter says, Elijah was a boss!

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah is taken up to heaven without dying.  The prophet Elisha and the company of prophets see chariots of fire come out of the sky and whoosh! Away he went up to heaven.  Later on the Prophet Malachi says that one day, Elijah would return from heaven to preach repentance to the people like he did on earth to “turn the hearts of the children to their parents and the hearts of the parents to their children. That would be the 4th Commandment, friends: Honor your Father and Mother. This is why at the Seder meal on the first night of the Passover, a chair is set at the table for Elijah to return.   In fact, it was thought that when Elijah returned, he would preach repentance and the Messiah would come.

What we see here in the Gospel of Mark is we see an announcement of this passage from Malachi and Isaiah combined in one and attributed to Isaiah. Malachi’s announcement that Elijah would return is combined with Isaiah’s call for us to prepare and make the way straight because we want to be ready for the Messiah.  Additionally, we have a prophetic dude, who lives in the wildernesss, eats of what God provides, is hairy, is dressed in weird hairy clothes, and is shouting at everyone to keep the commandments by repenting.  As they say, “If it quacks like an Elijah, waddles like an Elijah, and looks like an Elijah, it is Elijah.”

Everyone who read the Gospel of Mark in its day would know that John the Baptist is the fulfillment of the prophet Elijah who was to come and prepare us for the Messiah, the anointed holy one of God.  He comes to call us to make our lives straight so that we can face the Lord at his coming. We are to put the Lord our God as the first thing in our lives. We are to not use the Lord’s name for anything but honor. We are to keep the Sabbath. We are love our father and mother. We are to not kill. We are to not commit adultery or fornication. We are to not steal. We are to not lie about others. We are to not covet or be jealous about our neighbors’ stuff. In other words, we are to love our neighbors like we ought to love ourselves.

Just think if you knew that Jesus was coming again today, at, say 1 pm, then you would make sure you got your life straight and in order, right? Well, that is exactly what John the Baptist is doing in this passage from the Gospel of Mark. He is doing three main things: he is calling us to repentance; he is preparing us to meet Jesus; he is fulfilling the prophecy of God.

This Second Sunday of Advent, we too, are called to prepare the way of the Lord, to repent of the sins we commit. We are called to do so because when we gather as the faithful people around the Savior of the World, we too, are a fulfillment of the Scriptures. We are a people who are gathered as a sign to the world that the Father is the center of our lives in the ways we prioritize our lives.

When was the last time we said, “Well, I can’t on Sunday morning?”  When was the last time we “kept the Sabbath?” Too bad for us! The best excuse in the world to not reply to the email from our boss is “it is against my religion to answer your emails on Sundays.”  That is important because on this Sunday, the Lord is sending us an holy email. He is telling us through John the Baptist that it is not enough to say we are the Chosen People, we must live like the Chosen People.

When we live like Chosen People, then we are in service to the world who looks at us and says, “yeah, those people are so loving. They are serious about their faith. They lay their lives down to love God and others.”  Everyone who understands that “if it quacks like an Elijah, waddles like an Elijah, and looks like an Elijah,” it IS the prophet calling us to be the ones who change the universe.

I am sorry, did you not get the messenger? Did you think that coming to Church was about being entertained? Did you think that being a Christian was about holy self-help to survive in this world? Did you think that being part of a Christian or Catholic community was only about checking off the boxes to make sure you got all your sacraments? Did you think that your only job was just to take care of your faith and your family? Did you think that coming to church was just about what you got out of it, to serve your needs?

If so, I am sorry that you didn’t get the messenger. His message is that when you respond to John the Baptist, prepare to serve Jesus, you then become part of the fulfillment of the mission of God, spoken of by the prophets in the Scriptures, to save the planet. Once you know that God’s love includes you, then your job is to let others know.  You are part of the prophecy of Elijah, Isaiah, Malachi, and John.

If you ever get a chance to go on a cursillo based retreat, I suggest you do. It is a cocooning for a weekend in God’s love. Yet, when people go on a retreat, they often go back on the next retreat team to re-experience the cocooning love of God. Yet, that is not the purpose of knowing Jesus loves you. The purpose for you is to fly like a butterfly, with confidence, showing the colors of the Gospel to all you meet. Then, you invite them to “come and see” the love of God.

“Repent!” says John, just like Elijah. That means reorient your life with Jesus at the center. Soak in his love everyday and then take it out and give it away to others who are hurt, lonely, caught in hating their families, hating their bodies, getting lost in sex, lying, gossiping, whatever.  Don’t miss the messenger or the message. You are called to be the prophetic fulfillment of God’s presence of the Kingdom of God to save the world. There is a purpose for life in that. So, what are you doing? Don’t just sit there: get out, get going, get serving, get loving. The world needs you and the Lord has called you.  Amen.

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Mark Kurowski, M.Div.

Mark Kurowski, M.Div.

Executive Director

Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian