First Sunday After Christmas
Sunday, December 30, 2012
The Rev. Kealahou C. Alika
Daniel K. Inouye lived a life of remarkable service to Hawaʻii and to the nation. He represented our islands with distinction for nearly 50 years in the U.S. Senate. Much has been said about who he was – “a patriot”, “a decorated war hero”, “a role model”, “an extraordinary man”, “a great statesman”, “a tireless advocate for equality and justice,” “an honorable man,” “a good friend.”
Memorial services honoring Inouye were held at the Washington National Cathedral on December 21, 2012 and at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Pū-o-waina on the island of Oʻahu on December 23, 2012. Memorial services were also held on Hawaiʻi island on December 27, 2012, on Kauaʻi on December 28, 2012 and here on Maui yesterday.
State, county and community leaders from Maui, Molokaʻi and Lānaʻi were on hand for the Maui County gathering to remember and celebrate his life. Many things were said about who he was but it Colette Machado, from the island of Molokaʻi, who reminded us about whose he was by reciting his moʻokūʻauhau or genealogy. He was the oldest of four children born to Japanese immigrants Hyotaro Inouye and Kame Imanaga.
He was born on September 7, 1924 in Honolulu. His mother named him Daniel after the interpreter of dreams found in The Book of Daniel. He grew up on Queen Emma Street and was raised as a member of the United Methodist Church.
Much may be said about his years of distinguished service in the U.S. Army and in the U.S. Senate. What Colette Machado reminded us about yesterday with regard to Inouye’s birth was not: “Who is this child?” but “Whose child is this?”
Our reading from The Gospel According to Luke this morning would have us ask of Jesus: “Who is this child?” But the question cannot be asked apart from “Whose child is this?”
There are biblical scholars and theologians who will argue that the writer of Luke was not as concerned about the parent/child relationship Mary and Joseph shared with Jesus as he was with the growing self-knowledge of Jesus’ need to be in the Temple (Luke2:49). But the questions are not mutually exclusive.
The moʻokūʻauhau or genealogy of Jesus is recorded in The Gospel According to Luke (Luke 3:2338) and The Gospel According to Matthew (Matthew 1:17). In Luke it begins with Joseph and goes back to Adam. In Matthew it begins with Abraham and comes forward to Joseph.
In Luke his genealogy goes back to the beginning of creation indicating his divine origin. In Matthew it begins with his earthly existence. Both accounts are significant in that we come to understand more fully that Jesus is Emmanuel – which means “God with us.”
The Temple becomes the focal point in his life from the time of his birth throughout his childhood to that moment when he returns the Temple for the final time. It will be in the Temple that Jesus will come to understand his purpose in pointing the way to God’s love.
The question is asked: “Who is this child?” The answers vary. His name is Jesus which means “God is salvation.” He is the Christ, “the anointed one.” He is the Messiah, “the Savior.”
But the question may also be asked: “Whose child is this?” Jesus is the son of Mary and hānai son of Joseph. Every year they traveled as a family to Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of the Passover. In our reading this morning we are told that Jesus is twelve years old.
As amazed as many were in the Temple that day, Jesus would hardly seem have the “stuff” that makes for someone anointed by God. Initially, he appears precocious and disrespectful of his parents. His careless behavior, condescending voice and disregard of the concerns of not only his parents but other family members and friends would hardly seem to be the kind of qualities one would hope for in a Messiah.
Thankfully this is a story about Jesus and his growth as a human being. Stephen Bauman, an Episcopal priest, points out: “He has a mother and father who care for him; they are part of a larger community that honors religious tradition (they travel to Jerusalem for Passover among friends and relatives); he matures and grows; he listens, learns, and teaches; time passes from one stage to the next. In all this, his humanity is described and affirmed.” (Feasting on the Word, Year C, Volume 1, Bartlett & Taylor, Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2009, page 166)
Senator Inouye was 88 years old when he died. Almost a century ago he was born in a town called Honolulu. Whether or not there was great fanfare at his birth, he was the first-born son of Hyotaro and Kama and that counted for something. He lived a life of service that affected the lives of many. Former U.S. Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico said of Senator Inouye that he was “a true servant-leader.”
Some say Jesus was 33 years old when he died. Centuries ago he was born in a town called Bethlehem. His birth was heralded by angels and proclaimed by shepherds.
He lived a life of service reminding the early disciples, “whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:26-28; Mark 10:43-45) It is good that we remember and celebrate the life of a Senator born the child of Kame; of someone who lived a life of service.
As we continue through this season of Christmas, we remember and celebrate once more the life of a Savior born the child of Mary whom she named Jesus. In him God has come to be with us. In him we have been called to a life of service. Mahalo ke Akua! Amen.