The Firstborn of All Creation ~ Br. Chip Noon, Novice

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“Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

This first sentence of today’s second reading holds all things together in today’s readings, psalm, and Gospel. And it holds all things together in our lives and in our beliefs.

Let me explain.

In today’s first reading, Moses is instructing the people about the laws of God, and how they are to understand and obey them. They are finally approaching the Promised Land and he seems to be urgently trying one last time to impart the glory of God to this stiff-necked people. He has been giving a long and complicated sermon on their duties and responsibilities, then he stops and assures them that what he has been teaching is “not too mysterious and remote” for them. It is not up in the sky, nor across the sea, nor anywhere distant and hard to obtain. He says,

“No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.”

Then, in the second reading the Apostle Paul is telling the Colossians that Christ Jesus is everything…everything around us, everything from the beginning to the end, everything that we are looking for and that is looking for us.

The third reading likewise gives a similar lesson: Love God and love your neighbor. And the legal scholar then asks, “And who is my neighbor?”

So just as Moses says, we don’t have to search for what is right and holy, it is already within us; and as Paul tells us everything that is can be found in Christ Jesus; so Jesus himself is saying we don’t have to look around and search for those whom we should love because everybody is worthy of this love.

“My task is easy and my burden is light” once again echoes in our ears from today’s readings.

“Christ Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

Years ago, when I was questioning everything, believing nothing, wracking my brain for answers that always seemed to be too hard to grasp, especially the existence of God and my place in the scheme of things, my mother told me a story. She said that when she and her older sister were teenagers, they would have discussions about religion, God, the Church, the commandments…you know, everything that youngsters do to find their own place in the world. Her sister, my Aunt Mary, was always the one to be disputatious. She never let a moment go by when she wasn’t throwing doubt in my mother’s direction. She never seemed at peace, my Aunt Mary, and let everyone in the family know it. And it was after one of these contentious talks that my mother decided, without telling her sister, that she was through with questioning. She said she just decided to accept what she had been taught, and what she felt in her heart was right.

And from then on, that’s how she lived. She trusted in God, she trusted her fellow man, she trusted everything. I did ask her about the possibility of being taken in by unscrupulous people and she told me that happened very seldom. She was not naïve about life, but she put her energy into the positive things around her: We don’t need to search for God and the commandments of God.  Jesus is the image of God and is always with us, and every single person is someone to love and be kind to.

She could disarm the most hostile store clerk with a simple, “Gosh, you must be having a really bad day.” And peace would descend. It was amazing to watch!

So why is it that I, and I suspect you too, have to remind myself every day of these lessons? Maybe that’s the way I’m built…just a little thicker in the skull than I should be. But one thing I do know, that when I finally wake up after wrestling with a problem and realize that the solution is right there, it is God whom I have invoked, either subconsciously or consciously. And I know, from years of experience, that calling on God, on Jesus, on the Holy Spirit may not solve that problem, but it certainly allows me to put it in perspective and return to a measure of serenity.

One more thing: in today’s Responsorial Psalm from the daily readings of the USCCB which I use for my sermons, the response is written: “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.”

See, an easy task and a light burden!

Lord, help us today and every day to turn first to you in our need. Help us all to know that you are here in our hearts, and that all of our neighbors carry you within their hearts Help us to love our neighbors, even those who persecute us, as you love us all. In Jesus’ name we ask this.

Amen.

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