2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
January 14, 2018
“What are you looking for?”
“What are you looking for?” These are the very first recorded words of Jesus in John’s gospel. Jesus directs these words to the two disciples that come to him from John the Baptist.
If the question was “who are looking for?,” the answer would be obvious, Jesus. Jesus knows they come to him because John the Baptist has pointed to him as the one he had been preparing them for. John does so as he points to Jesus with a short but profound proclamation, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
Jesus knows what John has said to them. Jesus knows they have been waiting for a messiah. His question, “What are you looking for,?” is a much deeper question. Yes, Jesus is the Messiah. Yes, he is the Lamb of God but what do they expect from him. Jesus will bring them freedom but not freedom from the Romans. Jesus will bring them, as he brings us, freedom from our sins.
Jesus offers us freedom. He offers us eternity in Heaven but I ask you as you come here today, “What are you looking for?”
Are you looking for something that makes you feel good for one hour (perhaps less)? For example, do you want music that makes you want to dance but as soon as it is over, you go right back to feeling the way you did when you came in or do you want music that draws you into a deeper relationship with Jesus? What makes us feel good for a few minutes is often not what we need to hear in the long haul?
How about the readings and the homily? What are you looking for here? Is the most important thing to you that the readings and homily are short? Do you want readings and a homily that tell you the way you are living your life is okay? Or do you want readings and a homily that helps you become a better Catholic?
The Lord called Samuel but Samuel assumed it must be Eli calling because he was the only one around. Samuel was not familiar with the Lord to recognize his voice.
This should seem odd because Samuel was sleeping in the temple. How could he be sleeping in the temple, and not just for one night but regularly, and not be familiar with the Lord?
What does it mean to be “familiar with the Lord”?
Now, I assume everyone here wants to end up in Heaven. Are we willing to do what it takes to enter Heaven? Do we come here thinking that the fact that we come to church makes us “familiar with the Lord” and that is enough to get into Heaven?
If sleeping in the temple is not enough for Samuel to be “familiar with the Lord,” then we should realize that we need to do more than show up at church once in a while.
The prayer that I will say over the gifts in a few minutes will begin, “Grant us, O Lord, we pray, that we may participate worthily in these mysteries…”
I put emphasis on the words “we” and “participate” because we are not just here as spectators. You are not here just to listen to the words I say. I am not here just to say the proper words. We are here to participate. We need to actively engage ourselves in what is going on. In praying for the Lord to help us participate in these mysteries, we need to let the Lord change us.
This begins in opening ourselves to God’s words from scripture. Think about how once Samuel realizes it is the Lord speaking to him, he says in reply, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” For me, this listening is not just with our ears. When I dismiss the RCIA group at the 8:15 Mass or the children at the 10:30 Mass, I offer a blessing that includes the words to ask the Lord to help them open their lips AND their hearts.
If we want to be real disciples, when we listen to the Lord, we need to do the same thing. This requires some effort. For me, it means that my preparation to preach today began last Sunday afternoon when I spent about 30-40 minutes reflecting on the readings. Then, almost every day during the week I spend forty minutes to an hour looking at commentaries on the readings and thinking about what the words mean for us today. I don’t expect you to spend as much time as I do but to help bring the readings alive in your own life I strongly encourage you to spend at least one time during the week, looking at the readings. That’s why we give out books like the At Home With the Word books. You can also go online to the USCCB website (www.usccb.org) where you can click on the calendar on the right to see the readings each day. You can find video reflections on the readings there or in written reflections in booklets.
Of course, there is more to Mass than sharing God’s Word from scripture. We also celebrate the Eucharist. As we celebrate the Eucharist, we are to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross giving his life for us. This should lead us to be willing to make sacrifices in our lives for our relationship with God.
I know that sacrificing for the Lord isn’t easy. Part of the challenge is that we may not see the benefit of the sacrifice until we die. Meanwhile, things like the benefits of money are much more apparent. Likewise, there can be things going on at the same time church is that seem much more enjoyable in the moment but gain us nothing for eternity.
Earthly things can bring immediate happiness but how long does it last? When we come to know the Lord, it is for eternity. It is worth the effort.