17 Jan Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 14th, 2018
Father Shawn Hughes
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it. ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.
God bless you.
Great one liners upon which to reflect this week!!!
“Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
What are you looking for?
“Come and See!”
“We have found the Messiah”
“Speak Lord your servant is listening!”
“Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.”
Great one liners upon which to meditate this week!!!
For the second time in this first chapter of John’s Gospel, John the Baptist points Jesus out as the Lamb of God. Immediately everyone hearing him would know that the phrase alludes to the Passover, when in Egypt, 1200 years before Jesus, the Israelites sprinkled the blood of the Passover lamb on the lintels of their doors (Exodus 12). The lamb had been sacrificed in order to save the Israelites, so that the angel of death would pass over their homes. Thus, Moses, that very night would be able to lead them out of slavery. Jesus, the Lamb of God, is to be slain on Calvary; his blood is sprinkled on the lips of all his faithful when we receive Holy Communion. This saves us from the slavery of sin and leads us into the freedom of eternal life. What is foreshadowed in the Old Testament is powerfully fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus, the Christ, is THE Lamb, The Lamb…OF GOD, truly Saviour. Thus, at every Mass we say: “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us!” Thus, at every Mass, I raise up the Blessed Sacrament and say: “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world.” How blessed are we called to the supper of the Lamb. How blessed are we that his suffering, death and resurrection, have saved us from the slavery of our sins and leads us into the freedom of eternal life.
Andrew found his brother, Simon and announced: “We have found the Messiah!” Messiah – a Hebrew word translates as the Anointed One. Translated into Greek as Christus, the Christ. It is a title. The Anointed ones of the Old Testament: the priests, the prophets and the kings…messiahs…literally had consecrated oil poured over them, as a sign of being chosen and strengthened by God for their divine mission on God’s behalf. At our Baptism each one of us becomes an anointed one when the priest takes the Oil of Salvation and the Oil of Chrism, consecrated by the Archbishop during Holy Week, and anoints us, above our heart, and on our head…Christ is THE Priest, THE prophet, THE king…THE Christ, The Anointed One. In our baptism we literally put on Christ, participate in His priesthood, His prophetic power, His kingship…we are set aside, chosen by God and strengthened by God for the divine mission of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Andrew said: “we have found the Messiah. The Anointed One. The one whom the prophets foretold. This title also refers to the promised successor to the throne of David. Under King David, the Kingdom of Israel had reached its peak of power, greatness and influence. God had promised that the line of David would never entirely fail and that a son of David would ascend to the throne and reinstate a new, greater, golden age of Israel saving Israel from all her sufferings and oppression…Saving her from all the misery that her sin had heaped upon her. This is fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ.
“What are you looking for?” Foundationally each of us must answer that question for ourselves. Today we need to ask ourselves: “What am I looking for?” What do I really want from the rest of my life? What is my purpose for the rest of my life?” I think, foundationally, all us pray to be saved from our own weakness, our own sin, our own confusion. At the core of our being we desire wisdom, truth and peace. (Psalm 51:5-6) There is a wonderful quote from the Early Church Father, Irenaeus, at the end of the second century: He said: “The glory of God is man fully alive.” God’s glory consists in the human race reaching its full potential. Christ is the bearer and bestower of this glory, the one who establishes the sovereignty of God in every human heart.
And Christ invites each of us: Come and See:
The gospel says Jesus was walking by. He makes no grand entrance. Employs no intimidating tactics. When John and Andrew decide to go after him. He turns and welcomes them. He makes no demands, gives no orders and passes no judgement. He calls. Like the Prophet Samuel in our first reading he calls each of us by name. He issues an invitation: Come and See” Gently, unexpectedly, intimately, we are invited into Life with Christ. Invited to spend time with him. Samuel’s response was “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” Andrew and the other disciple spent the day with Jesus. They prayed…spent time with Jesus.
In the light of today’s readings, at the core of each of our beings we need to ask: What do I want? What do I seek? What am I hoping for? What do I desire? If we don’t take the time to truly reflect on these questions deeply and often enough to have an answer, we fall into the danger of ending up looking for meaning and happiness in the wrong places.
A secondary question is: Do I want to respond to the Lord’s call deeply enough to allow it to make Him my priority? Am I truly willing to remove from my life all that keeps me from Him? Am I truly willing to spend time with Him in prayer to know him more and more deeply? Am I willing to add into my life what is missing ? Am I willing to forgive? Am I willing to reach out a hand in reconciliation? Am I willing to forgo my pride, my guilt, my shame and allow the Lord to forgive me in Confession…
A good test to answer these questions is the answer to this one: Andrew spent the day with Jesus. He was so transformed that he immediately went and found His brother Simon and declared: “We have found the Messiah.” The true test of whether we have completely become a disciple of Jesus is if we are missionary. If we are willing to speak to others about Jesus about what he adds to our lives. The question: Am I like Andrew willing to speak to others about what I have found? If I am not, have I truly found it?
Imagine if Andrew hadn’t gone to Simon, his brother and told him about the Messiah. He brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus renames him. You are to be called Cephas, the Aramaic word for Rock. In the Jewish scriptural tradition only God gave new names to people and He only did so when he gave them a prominent role in his plan of salvation and connected them with his covenantal promise. We heard this on the feast of the Holy Family when Abraham and Sarah received their names. Simon becomes Cephas, the Rock, in English Peter. He is given a preeminent role, showing that the role of the pope, Peter among us, is instituted by Christ Himself . Imagine if Andrew hadn’t allowed his time with Jesus to transform him to the degree that he did not go and tell his brother Simon that He had found the Messiah.
There are many people in your life that rely on your testimony, your lived and spoken witness that you have found the Messiah. As always this is easier said than done. But as Anointed Ones of God, Baptised followers of the Christ, we have all the God-given strength, all the grace, necessary to do so. We need to trust.
That trust comes from the absolute knowledge and confidence of who Christ is and what he has done for me. That trust, that knowledge, that confidence only comes from the profound relationship with Christ that comes from prayer spending time with him.
This is why we offer all these extra opportunities: Alpha, Courses like the one on the Bible and The Sacraments, Cursillo Retreats…Each carefully, prayerfully, selected to provide you with opportunities to grow more deeply in knowledge of (point to head) and intimacy with the Lord.
Great lines upon which to meditate this week:
Foundationally: What are you looking for?
And in response:
“Look, here is the Lamb of God!”
“We have found the Messiah”
“Speak Lord your servant is listening!”
“Here am I Lord. I come to do your will.”
The Lord proposes. He never imposes.
He says to each of us: “Come and See”
We have just had the wonderful pilgrimage tour visit of the relic of St. Francis Xavier. St. Francis is a perfect example of a disciple of Jesus who became completely missionary. He was so on fire with the transformation the Lord Jesus achieved in his life that he literally went to the ends of the earth to bring others to Jesus.
I would like to end with this prayer which summarizes how St. Francis saw the Lord that so inspired him to give over his entire life.
Prayer of St. Francis Xavier
My God, I love you.
Not simply out of hope for heaven,
Nor from fear of eternal loss.
But because you , O Jesus,
You embraced me when you embraced the cross,
You took the nails, the spear, disgrace,
And bore it all for me.
You took the sorrow and the torment
The seat of agony – Even death itself!
And all for one who was your enemy.
So why, O blessed Jesus Christ,
Should I not love you well?
Not for winning heaven nor for escaping hell,
Not out of hope for personal gain,
Nor acquiring my own reward.
But because you yourself have love me,
O ever-loving Lord.
So I do love you, and will love you,
And your praises I will sing,
Just because you are my God.
My great eternal king. Amen!
Written by St. Francis Xavier; adapted by John David O’Brien, S.J.