What We’re Seeking, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), January 15, 2012

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Anthony of Padua Church, New Bedford, MA
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
January 15, 2012
1Sam 3:3-10,19; 1Cor 6:13-15,17-20; Jn 1:35-42

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click at the bottom of the page. The following text guided this homily:

WHAT WE’RE SEEKING

  • This past week we marked National Vocations Awareness week, which always begins on the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism and extends into the first week of Ordinary Time.
  • Vocations Crisis. Priesthood. Religious Life. Marriage. Because of secularism, living as if God doesn’t exist. We need to live with the reality that God not only exists, but is constantly calling us, in all the events of each day, to follow him along the path of holiness, happiness and heaven. We need to help form others to hear his voice and to respond as well.
    All of us need to grow in this awareness.
  • Today’s readings feature five “vocations directors,” five great facilitators of the call, each of whom are meant to help us learn how to hear God’s voice and act on his words and to train us to become “vocations directors” for others.
  • The first one is Eli.
    In the first reading, we see Eli the priest of Shiloh, who was entrusted by God with helping to form Samuel as a prophet to lead God’s people.
  • God could have formed Samuel all by himself, but he didn’t. He wanted, at least initially, to use others.
    We see that in today’s scene. God was calling out in the middle of the night, “Samuel, Samuel,” but Samuel “did not yet know the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” So when he heard his name, he ran to Eli, thinking that it was Eli calling him. Eli was the type of figure to whom Samuel could run with confidence.
    He was also wise enough in the ways of the Lord to recognize that it was the Lord who was calling him.
    He was able to give Samuel precise instructions of what to say to the Lord. And not just precise instructions, but wise ones. “When he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” He was a man of prayer and could teach others how to pray well.
  • Samuel learned from his example and we’re told, in a beautiful expression at the end of the passage, “As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” In other words, Samuel listened attentively, and did not waste any of the Lord’s words.
  • Each of us is called to have Elis and to be like Elis to young people, accessible, trustworthy, prayerful, wise, encouraging, and detached enough to facilitate a conversation between young people and God.
  • The second great vocational mentor we find today is St. John the Baptist.
    John had prepared his disciples for the One who would come after him, the thongs of whose sandals he wasn’t fit to unloosen. He taught them about the need to rid their lives of sin, but he also taught them about God’s majesty.
    His whole life was as a sign-post waiting for Jesus. When Jesus finally appeared, he pointed him out to his closest disciples and said, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
  • He wanted to decrease so that Christ could increase. He was humble. It was not about him, but Jesus. He rejoiced when he heard the Bridegroom’s voice and arranged for the bridegroom to have his bride.
    We learn from his example about how important it is for us to prepare people for Jesus’ majesty, to get people ready for him.
  • This involves first our helping them rid their lives of sin, so that they can be ready to say “yes” to the Lord. This is why it’s so important to encourage young people to go to the sacrament of confession, to teach them how to examine their consciences, grow in sorrow and respond to God’s grace to amend their lives.
  • We also learn from John how to be humbly bring people to Jesus and to rejoice. So many people discourage vocations because they’re afraid of “losing” their loved ones. There were many of my classmates in seminary whose families didn’t support their becoming priests, because they valued having grandchildren with their last names more than they valued the kingdom. It’s worse with religious women who enter cloisters, where so many families, rather than rejoicing that God has called their loved ones, basically disown their kids emotionally.
    We need to realize that our principal role in relation to young people is to prepare them to meet the Lord and to follow him wherever he leads.
  • The third great mentor is Jesus himself.
    They were following him out of curiosity.
    He got them to focus on their desires. “What are you looking for?” They didn’t know for sure at the time what their intentions were, but he wanted them to reflect more deeply.
    We can pause here. We all need to reflect on our desires. Where is our heart? Is it in God and the things of God, or rather in the things of the world?
  • They responded, “Teacher, where are you staying?” It was again more a nervous question of curiosity, but Jesus engaged, he was patient, and he said, “Come and see!”
    Then they spent a day with him. 4 pm. Sabbath eve.
    At the end of the day, they were transformed, as we’ll see later.
  • For us, we don’t need to have all the answers, necessarily, but we do need to have the right questions.
    What are we seeking? Are we showing the young to seek God as the pearl of great price, as the treasure buried in the field? That way we can ask them this question and “show” them the answer.
    We have to be patient with them. To introduce them to a life with Jesus. To come to see where Jesus is. That’s why it’s so important to introduce the young to Jesus’ house, to make him real. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament with kids and grandkids.
  • Fourth great mentor is Andrew
    As soon as he had found Jesus, he went to his brother Peter and said, “We have found the Lord!”
    Little did he know what the Lord would do with his brother. He just introduced him.
  • This is as basic as it gets. We need to pass on our enthusiasm for the faith to the younger generation, to say, “I have found God!” We need to realize that that discovery is good news, something that will be the great treasure of another’s life.
    I received that great gift from my parents. They always lived having found the Lord. They would bring me to Church, not just on Sundays, so that we could be with Jesus, so that we could stay with him. They brought us out to others, to encourage us to spread the same discovery to others.
  • Fifth great mentor is Paul
    He fostered so many vocations in the Church. We can particularly think of young St. Timothy.
    But he wrote about the vocational aspect of human life.
  • Today’s reading focuses on something that can short-circuit a vocation. Disordered desires.
    Jesus says, “What are you looking for?” If people are looking for the wrong things, they’re never going to find the treasure in God.
  • The body is meant for the Lord and the Lord for the Body, just like stomach for food. The body is a sacrament of the person and is meant to be given to others. This is my body given for you.
    Today so many people, including the young, are caught up in the flesh. They’re caught up in pornography on the computer. They’re caught up in fornication and a whole hook-up culture. We can’t pretend as if it’s not going on. This is one of the big reasons why people lose vocations.
  • St. Paul is clear. Fornicators won’t inherit the kingdom. WE must remember that are bodies are made for the Lord, that we’re temples of God, to give of ourselves to God. It’s not enough for parents simply to tell their kids to say “no” to sexuality. They need to tell them what they’re saying “yes” to. We’re saying yes to the reality of God within, to grace. The Lord ultimately wishes to stay within us.
  • Jesus has called us here. This is where he stays. He speaks to us, he feeds us, he renews us. This is how we glorify God in our body and in our souls. As we prepare to behold and to receive the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, we ask for his help to become Elis, John the Baptists, Andrews, Pauls and yes even images of Jesus for the young. He is calling some of them to follow him on the road to the priesthood and religious life. He is calling all of them to be saints. Let us teach them, by our word and example, how to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” how not to let one of his words fall to the ground, but to bear great fruit in us who respond to the Lord by saying, “Let it be done to me according to your word!”

The readings for Mass today were:

Reading 1 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading 2 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.

Gospel Jn 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” – which translated means Teacher -,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” – which is translated Christ -.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” – which is translated Peter.