(Homily for 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle A)
I googled the phrase: Disappointment sucks. I got hundreds of articles and blogs about people feeling disappointed and disappointing others. For the most part they say that they are disappointed because of unrealistic or very high expectations and the inability to do something or not being able to please others all the time. One blogger writes: Disappointment is a fact of life. Unless you’re on Facebook where, unless a pet or a relative has died, everything is always sunny, in real world, disappointment happens. Another blogger has this to say: Disappointment dashes your hopes and it can make you question your faith in people, things and higher powers. However, most people say that after a disappointment the next best step to do is to move on. According to them a change in expectations or mindset helps in getting over the disappointments of life.
In waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Israelites were expecting for a king. When John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world,” many people were surely disappointed because they were looking for a mighty ruler who would free them from their colonizers and oppressors. The last thing they wanted to see was someone who was like a lamb to be sacrificed. A sacrificial lamb does not represent a king who would defeat the enemies of Israel. And here is John the Baptist, the precursor to the Messiah, proclaiming to the people that Jesus, the Christ, is that sacrificial lamb. At first many followed Jesus. But when he was arrested, was crucified and died on the cross, most of his followers, even his closest friends, abandoned him, expressing their disappointment. Their hopes for the Messiah were crushed.
Our Christian faith tells us that Jesus, the Lamb of God, did not come to disappointment but to show to the world the power of God. This power is not like the political or military power of the world’s rulers but the power of God manifested in the meekness and humility of Jesus. This is the power of love, of mercy, of forgiveness, of healing, of service. We can call it the power of the cross.
The power of the cross gives us the wisdom to change our mindset and expectations. People believe that worldly power which consists of physical or military might, riches and fame would make a difference in this world. Worldly power, however,does not necessarily create a better world to live in. The aim or goal of worldly power is domination. Someone who has this kind of power will never be satisfied and thus will always be disappointed. Worldly power, as opposed to the power of the cross, is power for its own sake. On the other hand the power of the cross is power for the sake of others. The difference between these two kinds of power can be seen in a tale of two seas as told by John Marsabella. There are two seas in Palestine. They are both very different. One is called the Sea of Galilee. It is a large lake with clean fresh water which you can drink. Fish and people swim in it. It is surrounded by green fields and gardens. Many people have built their homes near it. Jesus sailed across it many times. The other big body of water is called the Dead Sea, and it really lives up to its name. Everything about it is dead. The water is so salty that you would get sick from trying to drink it. It has no fish. Nothing grows along its banks. No one wants to live anywhere near its unpleasant smell. The interesting thing about both these bodies of water is that the same river flows into both of them. So what makes the difference? Just this: one receives and gives, the other receives and keeps. The Jordan River flows into the top of the Sea of Galilee and out the bottom. The lake uses the water and passes it on for others to use. The Jordan then flows into the Dead Sea and never gets out again. The Dead Sea selfishly keeps it only for itself. This makes it dead. It gets and never gives. Worldly power is selfish and therefore not life-giving, but the power of the cross, the power of the Lamb of God, is other-oriented and is therefore life-giving.
John the Baptist testified to Jesus pointing to him as the Lamb of God. As baptized Christians we must also testify to Jesus by becoming like the Lamb of God. It means that we must be willing to embrace the power or the wisdom of the cross which translates to our willingness to die to ourselves for the sake of others. These opportunities to die to ourselves come to us everyday even in ordinary and simple things that we do. When our mindset is like that of the Lamb of God, we will never disappoint others and we will not be disappointed. Our use of the wisdom and the power of the cross, i.e. the power of love, makes sure of that.