Homilette for Friday, January 9, 2009

Friday after Epiphany

(I John 5:5-13; Luke 5:12-16)

Stephen Jay Gould, the late Harvard evolutionist, opined that humans may not be as superior as we think. He acknowledged that the human brain has unequaled mental powers but offered as a comparable marvel the ability of certain bacteria to withstand temperatures of several thousands degrees. And so the academic debate continues. Are we merely cousins to other living things without a claim to priority in standing? Or are humans innately superior to all other kinds of earthly creatures?

Christians should have no doubt about the answer. We believe not only that we have been made in the image of God, but also that the Creator has deigned to take on our flesh in Jesus Christ. This second truth has especially vaulted us far beyond other kinds of plants and animals. Now humanness is no longer associated so much with fallibility but with decency, respect, and love. This is the import of Christmas, the feast that still commands our attention two weeks after its celebration.

Although humans are capable of the heights of heaven, we often act like starving dogs. Sin has so tarnished our self-perception that some of us do not recognize our potential for goodness. As the reading from the First Letter of John states, we must turn to Christ as the witness of the glory which is within our reach.