Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sundayword, 18 Jan 2009

Second Sunday of the Year B (18 Jan 2009)
1Sam 3. 3b-10,19; Ps 40; 1Co 6. 13c-15,17-20; Jn 1. 35-42
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Lifelong Companionship

Our living faithfully can be described as growing more familiar with Jesus and his way of being in the world. Familiar means getting to know Jesus by establishing an intimacy with him in personal praying, public worship and willingly serving others.

At times--moments or even periods--people may move through life without that graced intimacy with Jesus. Sometimes we are not familiar with Jesus by choice, at other times by human stumbling or by simple inattention. Jesus invites us beyond whatever causes us to be unfamiliar with Jesus. Being ever more intimately attentive to Jesus allows one to become one’s true self, to use a phrase favored by Thomas Merton, himself a lifelong seeker of Jesus. Today’s scriptures highlight our divine invitations.

While a boy, the prophet Samuel was not familiar with the Lord, because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet. That was a statement of fact for God desires to make self- revelations to all people. Yet the world offers static: certain values of the world hinder or prevent us from receiving the self-disclosure God desires us to receive from God.

Samuel and his mentor, Eli, lived during a time when a revelation of the Lord was uncommon and vision infrequent./1/ That was the state of affairs when God invited Samuel. So even Eli was not immediately able to guide Samuel. The focus isn’t human slow-wittedness but God’s graciously, patient desire to welcome us into God’s heart and orbit.

Eli’s guidance remains good advice for us and our contemporaries: Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. It is not that always we hear a voice like we hear each other. That’s rare! Rather, we feel prompted or moved or drawn. At times describing the feeling we may liken it to a voice. That suggests to us and to others that our interior feeling has a personal quality.

The Baptizer’s proclamation of Jesus ceased to prepare his way and announced a person, whom John pointed as the Lamb of God. The Baptizer’s own disciples--seekers hoping for the Messiah--heard John and followed Jesus. Their movement toward Jesus and away from John dramatize how John later described his mission: [Jesus] must increase; I must decrease./2/ But the increase was not only Jesus’ gain of disciples. The disciples gained, too: they became familiar with Jesus. An afternoon and evening spent with Jesus became lifelong companionship, changing their lives!

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. Andrew left Jesus and brought his brother to Jesus. Jesus sealed Andrew’s intuition by renaming Simon. That pattern repeated itself with others in the rest of the chapter not proclaimed at mass. I mention it because being familiar with Jesus involves our intuitions. When we follow our graced intuitions, Jesus seals our friendship and gives us a mission.

Each one’s vocation embodies one’s mission. The universal vocation is friendly familiarity with Jesus as both our brother and Lord. How each of us lives the universal vocation is shaped by the lives we lead; and the particular, personal way of being in the world in turn shapes our manner of living. We are male and female, and we may remain single, we may marry, we may profess vows as members of religious orders; we might be ordained, that is, ordered to serve the church.

How we discern and live our particular vocations with one another depends on growing familiar with Jesus by establishing an intimacy with him in personal praying, public worship and willingly serving others. Abiding in Jesus includes being alert to the ways Jesus invites us to live, serve, even suffer so to rise with him.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week, compose yourself in the presence of the Trinity.
Then ask Samuel or Andrew or the Baptist or your patron saint to present you to Jesus. Thank Jesus for your life and for the vocation-mission Jesus has given you. Or, if you are discerning a vocation, thank Jesus for your life and ask Jesus to enlighten you. Close by saying the Lord’s Prayer, which guides us all to grow more familiar with Jesus and his way and put our faithful friendship with Jesus into action.

1. 1 Samuel 3.1. The designers of the Lectionary chose to silence the first verse of this chapter in the Sunday proclamation about Samuel’s first revelation from God.

2. John 3.30.
Wiki-image of Hannah presenting her son to Eli is in the public domain. Wiki-image of the St. Denis Trinity are used according to the GFDL.

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