KERYGMA #2 Homily, 3rd Sunday of Lent A 3-12-23
At the start of Mass> Intro–We are studying Kerygma for Lent. At each 1030 Sunday Mass in March, and at any others I preach, I am talking about Kerygma and its four stages or points. I am also recording each of the four Lenten Kergyma homilies on our website, under the title Kergyma, so that you can hear all of the set.
We are looking at Part 2 of Kerygma today, while its actually the 3rd Sunday of Lent. In the Word, pay heed today to St. Paul to the Romans, chapter 5, in his proclamation that “while we yet ungodly, and while we were yet sinners, Christ came and died for us, to deliver us. “ ‘Delivered us from what?—‘From being stuck in separation from God, captured in sin and death, mired in its ongoing misery!! That’s what. Pay heed to the Old Testament example of the sheer stubbornness of Exodus pilgrims who prefer to be stuck, not delivered fully, when at Meribah and Massah, they preferred an option to go back to slavery in Egypt, and diss Moses, rather than trust the Lord God of Israel, and to get back home. In the Gospel today, hear the example of the woman at the well who will eventually open up to Jesus about her mess of a life and take his offer for salvation.
Opening. What is Kergyma? (Is it) ‘A new breakfast cereal? No. (Is it) ‘Something to do with a Kuerig machine, as in Can you turn on the kuerig, ma? No. It’s kerygma. Is it related to enigma? Or enigmatic? No, enigma is a puzzle and an enigmatic person is difficult to interpret or figure out, being far too puzzling. Kerygma, rather, is a Greek to English theological term meaning proclamation. A kerygmatic person would be one who proclaims the key elements of our Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus Christ, God’s Son and Savior.
I would like to promote more “kerygmatics” here at Resurrection, indeed more proclaimers of Jesus the Savior, and I bless the Lord for you ones that are here already proclaiming Jesus by word and deed. (After this four part series, you’ll know the key things to proclaim to others as in evangelism efforts.)
Kerygma has four parts–what are they? The initial point to proclaim is “Created” as in we are created by God as humans, in the imago dei, that is, created in the image and likeness of God, as Genesis starts out saying in the Bible. We are of a special making from the rest of creation–‘created to be children of God, living to His Glory, and serving in His ways and purposes. Humanity had this as an original offer, but we blew it by sin. Yet, in Christ, we can get back to living this stage as “imago dei,” as to give pleasure to the Lord with our lives. As Revelations 4:11 proclaims in the end of the Bible: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for you have created all things, and for Your pleasure they are created.” Hosanna! We are meant to be as creations (or re-creations) of God.
Kerygma point 1: God is good. All the time He’s had a special plan for us. It’s been a plan of a loving God over us. Thus, you and I, as imago dei, are someone special, meant to be reflections of God—for we were made, male and female, at the pinnacle of the Creation story—by a Creator Who made so much in wonder all around us. It acclaims a God of Life—of Whom we are meant to be in loving relationship!
[I covered this part one of Kerygma last Sunday. It poses the question: Why is there something rather than nothing? Answer: Because God the Source of Life spoke it into being. Did we just happen to be or was a Creator’s design and loving plan going on in our coming to exist? It’s the latter, and we live in some great meaning! We are Created, and are made of the God of life. We are all meant to be in fellowship with God, and in harmony with others and to all of the created order. We belong to God, and that is quite a good thing! But we have a cooperation of our will and more to let God have His creature (you and I) freely back, for we fell from Grace. That’s the Kerygma start of Created…..and the seque to the second part of Kerygma. CRASH! So starts Step Two of Kerygma. Here comes sin and death into our world, with disorder, mayhem, madness. Genesis chapter 3 offers a brief but direct summary of it, The Fall, which can be described as catastrophic, calamitous, cataclysmic, disastrous, ruinous, tragic, and fatal. Death enters in, and it looms over all in this broken world. Uuuggghhh!! This past week or so, I was at parish funerals on Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Death is a reality—I see it regularly in my line of work. I conclude from the many deaths I have beheld in parish homes and families: this–that is an affront to God. But we can face it before it faces us.
Kerygma stage two is told by the word captured. ‘Asking: Why is everything so obviously messed up? What went wrong? What on earth is going on every day with so much wrong? In an explanation—it’s because we crashed, but then a bigger problem happened with our becoming captured. I can illustrate it by telling the story of a new #1 movie on Netflick entitled “Plane.” A plane is flying out of the USA going southward but gets hit with lightning and it has to make an emergency landing. It finds a landing strip and many survive and get off the plane and stand alive on the ground. But as the film promo advertises—this is where the problems really begin. They have landed on an island territory run by terrorists and the passengers and crew are mostly likely of getting tortured and killed by these captors, and the chances of their getting off the island without some outside help coming are about nill. That movie describes the similar helpless state that humankind had found ourselves after its Fall from grace. Kergyma addresses how this state of being (of being stuck in our sin and death predicament) as truly being a desperate one. To get it that we are captured on enemy territory, and the terrorist is the Devil and demons— is to catch on. We need rescue. Kerygma #2 proclamation challenges us “Do I realize just how radically crashed we all got to in humanity—as separated from God? What is the way out and back?
Does one want a way out? The sad thing today is that so many are duped to think that sin is to enjoy and that death is not to be feared, since they have a wrong image of God as One to just let every soul into Heaven, no questions asked, with no repentance needed from us, nor any reckoning with our offenses to Him.
That’s a bad plan, for it is the devil’s plan and lie.
Is the Church’s message clear enough these days of the truth about sin and death and its major ongoing dilemma and consequences? Do people see that there is a real devil and old foe of humankind? Or are people aware but skirting around to find their own invented way of salvation, of not needing a Savior Jesus unique to the rescue? Oh my… But the fact is that they are captured in sin and self-reign, and the Bible in Romans says that the wages of sin for such is death.
Death has got them. Checkmate.
Captured people who are not seeking escape are either A/oblivious, and unreached by the Gospel, or B/ maybe too scared but need to take courage with a courage outside of themselves, as like from Christ and His Holy Spirit, and the Church, or C/ some have the utterly false side of humility of thinking that they are just too lost or else unimportant for God to bother about them. Or D/ the captured are too arrogant sometimes to admit the truth staring right at them, or E/ they are just so darkened from reality, and they’re now into some entrenched evil, and they like its daring power –though it’s a false and/or temporary one, costing their soul, too or F/ they (the captured people not seeking escape) may be so used to the lie or falsehood they live that they are found right where the devil wants them all, as duped! I’ve heard the lies the duped have told themselves and others. Repentance? Salvation? God? Do we need it or Him? No. We’re “all good.” “Ok.” “Fine.” “Alright.” But, no, they are not! It’s why The Church needs to keep sending out its Gospel of Jesus Christ as the saving way alone. Jesus said: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Come to the Father (and freedom) by Me. “ John 14.
Some modern movies leak out in their stories what is similarly happening in real life. In the Matrix movies, the story involves a discovery of how the entire human race is used for power supply. Their bodies are asleep and their minds are plugged into the Matrix. The Matrix is a virtual world that has been pulled over their minds to hide them from the truth – they are slaves now for others over them in a real world. There is a Neo character who awakes to the deception, and being helped by the Oracle, he leads an adventure of people getting out of their bondage.
That’s just a movie, but we live in a reality, and we are meant to Proclaiming Good News of our Creator and our true life and meaning, and as how we can find out how we are enslaved and then work to get free from it.
If you were to use the Star Wars movie stories as our parable, instead, then we are to show how the dark side of the Force is an evil we don’t want to be a part of. As in real life, we reveal to the world, as the Church in her proclamation, that the devil exists. He once was one of God’s most beautiful angels, created by God. His name was Lucifer which means “light bearer.” In his arrogance, he declared that he would be like God, or try to be an equal, and he would not serve God. And there was a battle in heavens, and St. Michael the Archangel cast Lucifer from the heavens, and as the Book of Revelation tells us, this dragon swept a third of the stars from the sky with him, supposedly meaning falling angels. We have been left to deal with them, unfortunately.
The devil, being a fallen angel, has an intellect that far exceeds our intellects; we have to recognize that we are outmatched in every way. I’m reminded of that foolhardy 1979 song entitled “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” by the Charlie Daniels Band. In that up-tempo bluegrass tune, we hear the devil challenge Johnny to a fiddle playing contest for a golden fiddle. If Johnny wins, he gets the golden fiddle, if the devil wins, he gets Johnny’s soul. Johnny agrees. The song goes on to have us hear some of the supposed fiddle battle. Then the devil apparently loses and he lays the golden fiddle at Johnny’s feet, and Johnny says to him, “C’mon back if y’ever wanna’ try again. Cause I told you once, you son of a gun, I’m the best that’s ever been!” The song ends with the man victorious, but really, I don’t think ever in real life he would have. With that line of Johnny’s you can sadly hear his pride and arrogance, and we don’t win spiritual battles in that way—we lose ‘em! Pride was our downfall in the beginning and with our original sin. It was the devil who appeared in the form of serpent to tempt our first parents, and appealing to their pride, he claimed, “you shall be like gods, if you disobey God.” His lie was that God was holding out on them, and couldn’t be trusted, and they fell for the lie. Thinking they were determining their own greater fate—they were captured!
And there is the proclamation of Kerygma part 2 that we are captured but can be freed. We are told that Lucifer did this nasty trick to us out of envy. How, you might ask, would this angelic being of great power and intelligence be envious of us humans? Because we are destined for the glory which he once enjoyed but has been lost to him, and so he hates us almost as much as he hates God. Indeed so! Practicing Catholics know that they still need to be vigilant about the spiritual realm all around them. 1st Peter 5:8 says: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We don’t think about it much, but that spiritual warfare is always on.
So Kerygma part 2 proclaims a warning about this capture. It’s worse than it looks. Humankind cannot save itself without the Grace of God. Our Romans reading today proclaims that fact.
I like the good Gospel ending for the Samaritan Woman at the Well and for her townfolk at Sychar, Samaria.” Along the way of their encounter, Jesus treats the woman kindly, even though he knew her noon visit to the well was about her sneaking there purposely at the least traversed hour. Anyway, she is caught in the company of a holy man. It’s Jesus. Our Lord could quickly spiritually surmise her life condition and situation. She was the city’s harlot and was despised by the other Samaritan women for her seductions on their men. Jesus has a one-to-one talk to her by the well. Eventually Jesus called out the woman’s hidden sins and she did not deny them but admitted to them and everything else besides of her wrong- doings. Final thing–she repented. Her amazing conversion then led the whole town to come out and see who could save such the sinful person, to get them out of the rut. These people came forth to get out of the capture to sin. It’s in John 4. It’s a long gospel story. It’s a story of the woman and people of Jacob’s Well City. The Lord of the Highway to Heaven or Jacob’s Ladder has come down to save His people.
Yet even supposedly nice people were turning down Jesus’ offer of being saved, even over materialism. The Lord Jesus tested a rich young ruler (ref. Mt 18, Lk19) who said to Jesus how he “kept all the commandments.” Jesus did first look at the man in love, for his starting attempts at living the Law of God, but then Jesus asked him to demonstrate his following of the first commandment, even inviting him to follow Him, but to first to lay down his possessions, for, as Jesus saw, the man’s possessions had possessed him. Jesus could set the man free in his obeying this one more commandment. But the man turned Jesus down. He walked away. He chose to stay captured, even when Jesus was offering a free, true life ahead.
That is the sad state that humanity today has found itself. Preferring sin.
Yet people who have learned to humbly call on the Lord for help, find in Him a Rescuer. Rescuer is the 3rd point of Kerygma to cover next time.
Maybe the more vivid Gospel example of the disciples wanting to get out of their capture of their situation, was the storm at the sea story. They had not awoken Jesus, who was tired and fast asleep in the boat, even while a storm was pushing water into the vessel faster than they could bail water out. They finally roused Jesus, and He rescued them. It had taken a while for them to raise the SOS to the Savior, but the Gospel lesson is to not delay in trusting the Lord, and getting out of harm’s way. They had asked Jesus, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” His look to them was of course saying: I care, God cares, that you are perishing—that is why I am here. But perhaps it is you who were asleep awhile to the fact of Me in your boat.
Next week we cover Rescued, which asks the question: “What has God done to fix the mess in which we have found ourselves?”