Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Ambassadors
The readings today continue to focus our attention on Christ and His ministry. In doing this, of course, we are being reminded of our own role as Christians, which is to reflect Christ's presence amongst people.

Isaiah 42 1-4,6-7
The first reading from Isaiah tells us that the role of the Messiah is to act as a witness to the peoples; to open the eyes of the blind; to free captives from prison; to be a leader and a light to the nations. Messiah means "The Anointed One" translated by the Greek word "Christos" from which comes our word "Christ".

Acts 10: 34-38
In the second reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see Christ being presented as the pivotal link between God and all peoples.

Matthew 3: 13-17
The Gospel defines the different roles of John the Baptist and of Christ. John was there to identify the Anointed One. Christ is solemnly proclaimed to be the "Son". The best translation of "son" is "servant", and Christ was quick to identify himself with the role of the "suffering servant of Yahweh" to be a bridge between the Old and the New. With Christ a new era of religious expression was ushered in.

Point 1: We are constantly being reminded that the gap between religious theory and practice is still there. Catholics versus Protestants; Jews versus Christian; Sikhs versus Hindus; Moslem versus "the infidel".
Secularism versus Religion. In recent times we have seen the need for a Code of Conduct for Clergy and Religious! Not so long ago it was a Code for the Police and before that for the Legal Profession. All of which prompts the question - what happened to the Ten Commandments? It means, simply, that the Christian calling, or religious calling for that matter, has not been understood in depth. As the Holy Father and our own Archbishop comment from time to time - "we need to do more than we have been doing".

Point 2: In laying claim to the title "Christian, we really undertake to represent Christ. Through Baptism and Confirmation, we commit ourselves to a representative role, just as an ambassador who has been chosen to represent his or her country. Our words, our deeds, our life-styles then become part of a pattern to reveal the purpose, the plan and the vision of our Leader. God depends on people to become known by people. John the Baptist saw his role was to announce the coming of Christ, the Anointed One; Christ knew his vocation was to make known 'the will of the father". Our vocation is to continue the spread of that "good news".

Conclusion: That being so, it is worth while asking - What sort of witness am I? In times past it was considered adequate to give witness within the frame-work of the Church, and this frequently meant "church" in its most limited sense, a building which we frequented once a week for the most part. Now, we know that "church" has a far deeper meaning; it is people; and it is to people that we are expected to relate. The world wide response to the overwhelming tragedy of the Boxing Day tidal wave would indicate that the quality of compassion is still alive in people. Although many may not recognise it as such, for those who believe in and accept Christ's leadership, surely this is an opportunity to acknowledge what is more commonly used as a profane expression -"For Christ's sake" - may come near to being what it originally was - a prayer expressing genuine intention and motivation for the Christian. Then, too, the commendation given to Christ in to-day's gospel may be our final commendation -"This is my beloved servant!" for " As often as you did it to the least one of these, you did it to me".

Scriptural reference: ".... in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ; God making his appeal through us" (2 Cor. 5 19-20)