#Sensation, a reflection for Sunday, July 19, 2015 asks, “What exactly is so great about Jesus anyway? What do we really have to offer people as Christians and religious people? Am I missing something here?” Find out in “Sensation”, the podcast for this week. Available on itunes and android. #MSAWordfortheDay #MySpiritualAdvisor #Sermon #Homily #IAMSECOND #ChrisCoghlan #JesusChrist #Spiritual #WhatWeHavetoOffer #WhatHeMeanstoMe
For My Spiritual Advisor, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/19/2015 The 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Mark 6:30-34 and 53-56.
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
I want us to remember these words as we take into account today’s Gospel Lesson from Mark. Mark’s Gospel lesson from chapter 6 is so very powerful. It seems like it is nothing, a few verses here and a few there. They went away in a boat and people chased after them. That is the what we read in a nutshell. Sure, we could say that it isn’t much. Yet, there is so much more. I will get to that in a moment.
First, I want to tell you about a website called “Iamsecond.com”. Iamsecond.com is a website and a movement. It is a series of videos from famous people, actors, actresses, athletes, celebrities, etc. who have lived selfish lives and have come to realize that their lives were out of control, or empty, or without meaning, or all of the above and more. Then, they came to the conclusion or had an experience where they came to know that Jesus Christ was more than just a nice guy philosopher who gave nice little truth sentences by which we could live a stress free life. [One time, a professor of mine said that Methodists believe that God is a nice God, who does nice things, for nice people.] My favorite was Chris Coghlan, presently the left fielder for the Chicago Cubs. Coghlan’s video is amazing and I have it posted above this podcast/sermon at MySpiritualAdvisor.com.
Coghlan’s life was rocked by the loss of his father in a car accident when he was in high school. He buried himself in baseball. At the same time, he started drinking alcohol at the age of 16 to deal with the pain. The constant practicing paid off. He was drafted into the minor leagues of baseball and then became a Rookie of the Year for the Miami Marlins in 2009. Life was good except for the fact that the drinking and the fame made Coghlan feel and act like life was meant for him. People, he thought were to serve him. It was not long after his Rookie of the Year season that he was sent down to the minors by the Marlins because he couldn’t keep up life with drinking and selfishness.
It was when he met another player who shared what Jesus meant to him that his life was changed. What struck me is that when others had God and they shared it with him, he wanted God, too. Here we have a major league baseball player, Rookie of the Year, a starter on a club that is looking to go to the playoffs this year. Yet, that is not what he sees as the best thing about believing in Christ. He said, “I wanted God. I wanted Jesus. I was tired of chasing the wind. I was tired of chasing these temporary satisfactions. Every night I had an empty feeling inside. I was trying to fill this void with these earthly things.”
Did you hear that? The baseball star was empty inside. The earthly things were not enough. There was more that was needed. It is the essential fact about humans: we are spiritual beings living in these earthen vessels called bodies. We can only get so much satisfaction, only so much healing, from the bottles of fine wine, the gorgeous panoramas, the houses, the cars, the gadgets, etc. We are finite beings that long for the infinite. As St. Augustine has said, “I cannot rest until I find my rest in thee, O God.”
So, let us look at the Gospel lesson. Jesus has just been found out by Herod. His apostles, the 12, gathered around him from their mission to the towns and cities near Nazareth that would receive them. In his name, meaning through appropriating his power, they healed the sick through the anointing with oil and cast out demons. Maybe not in Nazareth, but this caused quite a stir.
In my spiritual direction practice, there is no greater sickness that I run into than the disease called self-loathing. Along with it come the symptoms of self-doubt, lack of confidence, self-demeaning behavior and defensiveness. Look at the booming psychology industry. We hate ourselves and then blame God for hating us. God does not hate us. No fewer than 54 times, by my meager attempt at counting them, does God say that he loves us. No greater testimony to God’s love for us is that he allowed his only Son to be killed by his own creation, does God show that he loves us. This is besides the fact that he tells us straight out: “For God so loved the world…”
The people in this passage from Mark 6 saw that. They saw the healing power of Jesus Christ and living life in his name. Jesus and the apostles wanted to get away to rest, but the people hunted for them like paparazzi getting a great pic. When they were recognized, the people “rushed them” and brought on mats people who were sick. People crowded into Jesus’ personal space and begged him to touch them, or they reached out like the woman with the hemorrhage to touch the fringe of his garments. To say the least, Jesus Christ was a sensation.
When I was writing this reflection I accidentally typed, “Jesus ‘is’ a sensation.” It was a freudian slip. We look at this passage and we say, “Wow, Jesus was a sensation.” My question for us today is this, “Isn’t Jesus still a sensation?” Yes, I say. Yes. Jesus Christ is a sensation. He heals the sick. He forgives our sins. He gives us a new life. He gives us each a calling. He gives us a purpose to live that is above any life that we could fashion here on this earth. He gives us perspective on what is truly important. He shepherds us lovingly to see that what is important is life. Life in the womb is important because it makes all the cute babies. Life in childhood is important because we all need to be safe to grow. Life in adolescence is important because no one wants to feel as though they are useless. Life in adulthood is important because it is upon these shoulders that God depends upon us to feed and care for each other. Life in eternity is important because that is where we find meaning to all other lives. Life in eternity is important because it is where we find the importance of even those who are sinful and hate us because we love. Life in eternity is important because that is where we are all headed and can live presently, right now, through how we order our lives, live our lives, give of ourself and believe!
The people all around Jesus and his apostles believed it, just look at the passage from Mark 6 and you can see they didn’t just feel like seeing Jesus. They HAD to see Jesus. They HAD to touch Jesus. They HAD to know him, love him, and serve him. It was a matter of eternal life and death to them because they, like Chris Coghlan knew that nothing on earth can satisfy like the One who came to earth to save, Jesus Christ.
If that is the case, and we believe that Jesus Christ is the center of what we are about right here, then why do we act like we have nothing to give? Why do we act embarrassed to ask someone to come here with us find out why our lives are so joyful and meaningful, no matter how bad our circumstances? Why do we act like we have nothing to give because our Sunday School ain’t what it should be? Why do we act like we have nothing to give because we don’t have a welcome center or a coffee bar? Why do we act like we have nothing to give when we have the everything to give: spiritual healing called salvation?
We have something because we have Someone. So, if you get nothing from this today, get this:
- God loves you.
- Jesus is the one who died so that your sins are forgiven.
- Accept what God has already done for you.
- Live life like no matter how bad the world treats you or how bad life can be here, you are a citizen of heaven by virtue of your baptism into Jesus Christ.
- You have it all.
Now, live like it. Amen.
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