Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunday word, 15 Jan 2012

Personally Recreated
2nd Sunday of the Year B (15 Jan 2012)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

To live 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—anyone may move through life without 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. The more alert to Jesus moving with us, the more we discover who Jesus creates us to be: his disciples, ministers of his paschal mystery. Today’s scriptures invite us to grow more familiar with Jesus, who addresses us and invites us to join his mission.
The lectionary invites us to remember Samuel as a way to consider growing familiar with God. 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 communicate to all people of all ages. 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. 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: Speak, Lord, your servant is listening. It is rare to hear a voice like we hear each other. 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, a longing for meaning.
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 disciples—seekers longing for the Messiah—heard John and followed Jesus. Their movement toward Jesus and away from John dramatized 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 grew familiar with Jesus. An afternoon and evening spent with Jesus became lifelong companionship, changing their lives!

The effort to identify Jesus by John and his disciplesLamb of God, Son of God, Rabbi, Messiah—gave no advantage over Jesus to John and his disciples. Jesus was and is more than each of those titles. In the bible, to give a name exercised power over another. Today’s gospel selection ended with Jesus naming Simon. The disciples entered the orbit of Jesus’ power. That Andrew brought his brother to Jesus is no throwaway line: each of us needs help to recognize Jesus and abide in his power
Jesus’ power remains disarming. Jesus’ power upends worldly power because it liberates not dominates. Jesus’ power is inviting—Come and see—promising authentic life not passing pleasure. Our liturgy praises Jesus’ power with the word mystery. Scripture and liturgy do not point to a puzzle or a problem; they praise the secret core of our triune God, revealed and shared with us each moment in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection—his paschal mystery.
Jesus’ self-gift in his sacrifice and supper is our privileged way to grow familiar with Jesus and allow Jesus to recreate our authentic selves.3 Graced knowledge and familiarity with Jesus lead to more accurate self-knowledge: by his Spirit Jesus shares his power with us, both for us and through us for others.
How we discern and live our Christian discipleship with one another depends on growing familiar with Jesus by cultivating 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. 
  • 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.
  • Ask Jesus for the grace to seal your friendship with him by personal praying, public worship and willingly serving others. 
  • Close by saying the Lord’s Prayer: it guides us all to grow more familiar with Jesus and his way and put our faithful friendship with Jesus into action.

Link to this Sunday’s Spiritual Exercise
  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.
  3. Today’s Prayer Over the Offerings professes this: Grant us, O Lord, we pray, that we may participate worthily in these mysteries, for whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished.


Detail of Wiki-image of call of Samuel is in the public domain in the U. S. Wiki-image of the Baptizer pointing is in the public domain.

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