And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18
Last Thursday I had just finished what I thought was the final draft of this, my first bulletin column. My wife Marcia listened attentively as I read the draft aloud, eagerly awaiting and anticipating her enthusiastic response. “Well?” It was a familiar look, in fact the identical look I saw four years ago after reading aloud the draft of my first homily for Holy Trinity Sunday. As I then read page after page, “shoe horning” dense, graduate course notes into one homily, Marcia listened patiently with a wide, encouraging smile. About half way through, it appeared that she had trouble holding up that smile, and at the end it buckled. “Well?” Compassionately, she paused and said, “I think you need to pray about it (code for ‘redo’).” “Pray about it?” I argued, “I put a lot of time into this, and I already sent the draft to Fr. Chas!” After calming down, I did pray about it, and after a struggle, tossed the “final draft” and rewrote the homily…just as I am rewriting this bulletin column. It seems as though some things are difficult and slow to change.
The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Change. Change is an inevitable factor in all of our lives. Someone once said, “The only constant thing in our lives is change.” A simple example of that is our skin. Of our billions of skin cells, scientists tell us that 30,000 to 40,000 of them fall off every hour. Snakes have absolutely nothing on us!
Upon being ordained a permanent deacon four years ago, my life was radically changed. Sacraments produce change, real change, in our being. In Theology it is called “ontological change,” which occurs by God’s grace in the sacraments. A clear example of this is priestly ordination. Through ordination, priests are given authority to forgive sins and consecrate bread and wine, something they could not do beforehand. They have been changed by the power of the Holy Spirit in sacrament of holy orders and can do what they otherwise could not accomplish on their own.
All of the baptized also have been permanently changed, even though most of us were too young to realize what was occurring. And those who are married have also been changed in the sacrament of matrimony, as the ‘two become one flesh.’
Our second reading this Sunday reminds us that it was by faith that Abraham obeyed God when he was called. He left Ur not even knowing where he was to go! Abraham believed God, and it was his faith that became the foundation of his radical life change.
Coincidentally, I am pleased to announce a significant change in my life. As many of you know, over the past five years I have taught Theology at Lumen Christi; however, I will not be returning this fall. I will be shifting focus and efforts to our parish in order to assist in our ministry to the sick and the homebound, and I want to be more involved with Deacon Mike with my diaconal ministry. This is a “stepping out in faith” for me, and I would appreciate your prayers. As Todd Gale has said more than once, “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the call.”
Even though we go through many, many changes in life, it is comforting to know that there is one who never changes and is always faithful, as the author to the letter to the Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”