January 5, 2020 - Pastor Message01/19/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP PART 6: DIALOGUE “Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old they went up according to the festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained in the temple, but his parents did not know it...After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the elders, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2:4143, 4647).
Continuing our Year of Discipleship, in which we are reflecting as a parish on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, we move this month from welcoming to dialogue with others. The path of discipleship begins in dialogue God’s dialogue with us. He sends his living Word, Jesus Christ, into the world to call us to himself, and we respond with faith, professing our belief in him by our words and, even more importantly, by our actions. We then become living words too, communicating the Gospel message to others through what we say and do.
Just as God sends his living Word among us by taking on our nature and becoming like us in all things but sin, so our living word needs to take on the nature of those to whom we communicate, becoming like them in all things but sin. This means that, before we can evangelize to others, we need to get to know them, which requires dialogue.
Dialogue literally means “words between,” and if we as Christ’s disciples are to communicate his Word to others, we need to hear the words that they are communicating; we need to hear them as living words, whatever their message is. We don’t need to agree with the words they are communicating, or even like the words they are communicating, but we need to hear the words they are communicating. And that means that we need to stop talking for a moment and listen. True dialogue begins with listening.
That is how God comes to save us and always has. He listened to the cry of Hebrew slaves in Egypt and freed them. He listened to the cry of the Israelites oppressed by the Philistines and other foreign powers, and he sent his judges and champions to save them. He listens to us in our need and sends his Son to save and redeem us. God continues to listen, and so must we, if we would be the disciples of his Son. Then, and only then, can we truly communicate his saving message to others. Then, and only then, can our living word become his living Word. As we continue this Christmas season to reflect on God’s Word among us, let us listen to those in our life so that we can more clearly and more faithfully communicate that Word to others through true dialogue.
Fr. Marc Stockton