2nd Sun [A] 1999

Fr. Charles Irvin

Isaiah 49:3,5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

In earlier and more classical times it was the custom to begin letters with what was called a salutation. Today we have reduced salutations to greetings like: “Dear Joe,” or “Dear Sir or Madam,” or just “To Whom It May Concern.” Awfully minimal (wouldn’t you say?) in terms of giving warm and positive greetings to someone you want to pay attention to you. So with that idea in mind, let me now repeat the salutation you just heard in St. Paul’s first words found in his first letter to his newly converted Christians in the ancient Greek city of Corinth:

The central thought, the most important phrase was: “…to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Well, what’s so important about that, you might ask. Hear it again: “…you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus…” To be honest, that vision escapes me as I stand here before you. I don’t feel particularly holy, and while I am in fact an ordained priest, I don’t experience myself as having been made a saint, as having been sanctified in Christ Jesus. Yet, on this Second Sunday in Ordinary time, that is precisely what St. Paul is putting before you. Even though you live here in Manchester, Michigan, United States of America, St. Paul would include you among those Corinthians living in ancient Greece.

 Perhaps we all need a vision correction:

“Will we unwrap the ordinary in our lives and find the holy and sacred? Let us make a practice of noticing the whiffs of God’s presence in our daily lives. Then there will be nothing ordinary about them but they will be charged with the presence of the divine!”

      St. Macrina Wiederkehr in “A Tree Full of Angels”

“Earth’s crammed with heaven.
 And every common bush afire with God;
 But only they who see take off their shoes –
 The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.”

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning in “Aurora Leigh”

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
 It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
 It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
 And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell; the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And, for all this, nature is never spent;
 There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
 Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs –
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
 World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

                                   Gerard Manley Hopkins

About Charles Irvin

Fr. Charlie was ordained a priest June 3, 1967 and has served as pastor of St. Mary Student Chapel in Ann Arbor, founded Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg, MI, served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor and was pastor of St. Mary parish in Manchester, MI when he entered Senior Priest status in 2001. In 1999 he was appointed Founding Editor of FAITH Magazine which has grown into Faith Catholic Publishing located in Lansing, MI. He is now very active in his “retirement.”