14 January 20182 Ordinary Time

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
2 Ordinary Time
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Cycle B - John 1:35-42

Victor Hugo in Les Miserables wrote, "To love another is to see the face of God." Hugo was speaking figuratively. But John the Baptist and Andrew had the good fortune to see the authentic face of God. Immediately they fell in love with Christ for life and were never the same again. It was love at first sight. Today's Gospel is the word painting of two extraordinary people. One is John the Baptist, who gets much attention and does not like it. The other is Andrew who is put on everyone's back burner and could not care less. At this point, John is the star of the show.

He is surrounded by great numbers. He is lionized by the press. People travel hundreds of miles on foot to hear him. Everybody wants a piece of him. And yet the Baptist is about to throw all that adulation overboard. Standing before him is One whom he cannot ignore. It is the Messiah. At this point, Jesus is a non-person as far as John's admirers are concerned. It is John who puts the spotlight on Him. The only loser will be himself. Perhaps then we can better understand why John is the only person of whom Jesus says He stands in awe. The day before this Gospel opens, John was surrounded by a mob of fans.

He points to Christ and announces Him as the Main Man. The Baptist is eager to step back into the desert. His job as Christ's "advance man" is ending. Life in the fast lane is not to his taste. In the Gospel, John stands with two fans. One is our Andrew. The other is not identified. Many scholars assume it was John, today's author. Modesty forbade him mentioning his own name. Once again, their leader points to the Nazarene and identifies Him as the Chairman of the Board. And, as John foresaw and even hoped, the two tipped their turbans to their now former guru and followed Christ. They were unknowingly following out a plan that had been programmed from day one.

There could not have been an ounce of envy in the Baptist's person. He had his fifteen minutes of fame. Willingly he surrenders his notoriety to the better man. If your problem is pride, John the Baptist is your medicine man. He will teach you "no one has ever choked to death from swallowing his own pride." The Christ plays the host and invites Andrew and his friend to stay with him. He was hardly bunking at the Jordan Hilton. In most probability, the Hilton in question was a primitive hut along the Jordan River. One can still observe these huts set up along the riverbank. They are built by farmers so that they can guard their crops from night poachers. I suspect that both Andrew and his friend kept Jesus up into the early hours with their questions. When did He sleep? What a pity we do not know even a fraction of their conversation into that morning! Oh, for even a twenty dollar tape-recorder.

At dawn, Andrew rolls out of his sleeping bag. He does not even take time for cappucino and an onion bagel. He is most anxious to introduce his brother Peter to their extraordinary Host. Peter too was bedding down in the area. He had walked down from Caphernaum in Galilee with Andrew to check the Baptist out for himself. Andrew makes the proper introductions. Then he willingly surrenders front stage to Peter.

From this point on, Andrew will lose his identity. He will be spoken of constantly as the brother of Peter. It will be his fate to live in his brother's shadow. But there is no hint of sibling rivalry between them. While Peter will be referred to ninety times in the Gospels, Andrew will be referred to seldom.

Even though Andrew was a charter member of the apostles, it was his fate never to become a member of Christ's inner circle or kitchen cabinet. Yet, there is no evidence that this ever upset him. He was willing to play second fiddle. His gripes about riding in the back of the bus, had he made them, would have been legitimate. Were we in his sandals, we would have sounded off. But Andrew was willing to be the low man on the totem pole. He considered himself a winner just to be numbered among Christ's company. So should we. Most of us have been lucky in life but never luckier than to be Jesus's follower. Andrew advises us that when we tell others what Jesus can do for them, we should first tell them what He has done for us.

Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
2 Ordinary Time
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: Answering His Call

I want to begin today by talking about Caller ID and Voice mail. We all use both these advancements in technology to see who is calling us and then decide whether to answer the call or send it to voice mail. I might be overstating it to say that these are advancements in technology. I have a friend who never answers his phone. Every call goes to voice mail. It drives me crazy. Actually, I'm not sure if he does this to all his calls or just to mine. We all have caller ID and Voice Mail in our spiritual lives. All of us receive calls from the Lord. Sometimes, like the disciples in the Gospel, we recognize the Lord's call and follow Him. Sometimes, we just send God's call to voice mail. We might be afraid of what He is going to ask of us. He might demand something more than we want to do or give.

Maybe, we'd rather deal with Him later. Maybe if we ignore the call enough, we won't have to deal with it at all. And that is the sad truth of our reaction to God's call. If we don't respond like Samuel in today's first reading, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” we might miss our opportunity to do His will. Maybe the Lord wants us to lead someone who is estranged from Him closer to Him with our kindness. Maybe the Lord is calling us to enter into the path of life where we can best serve Him. God's calls have an impact both on our lives as well as on the lives of other people, even people we might not know. This Sunday is the perfect time to discuss the call of God that we receive in our lives, our vocation. Usually, when we hear the concept of vocation we think of those who are called to become priests or to enter religious life as sisters or brothers. These are certainly vocations from God, but they are not the only call that God gives.

Many of you are married or are hoping to be married someday. How do you view marriage? If it is just a romantic matter legalized by the state and celebrated in a Church, then you are missing an essential part of the sacrament of marriage. Marriage is a vocation, a call from God to greatness by embracing a life of sacrificial love. If you are married, you need to pray to God that you will be a good Catholic wife or husband, concerned with giving love. Husbands and wives also need to pray for each other. In marriage, it takes two of you to push the receive button on the phone and answer God's call. You young folk are full of wonderful romantic ideals and ideas. You date this guy or this girl, and you look forward to a time when there will only be one person in your lives. This is all great. But do you ever pray for that special person, even if you do not know who that person is yet? Do you ever pray that God help you recognize the person that you can best make a Christian life with?

Pray that when God calls you to love as he loves, you will answer this call, not send it to voice mail. Many are involved in careers. Why do we do what we do? To make money? It is perfectly correct to receive reward for our labor and to enjoy this reward, but if the goal of our lives is to be Squidward Tentacles (that's a Sponge Bob reference for you older people), or Scrooge McDuck (and that's a Donald Duck reference for you young folks), then we will have nothing to take with us when we die. God did not create us for money. God created us for love. We often recognize a call from Him to use our funds for others. It's easy to send this call to voice mail, but then we will miss an opportunity to do God's will, an opportunity to love. Sometimes we miss God's call because we allow ourselves to become too busy to answer it. We get so busy in the things that we are doing that we forget why we are doing them. God calls us, but we send his call to voice mail. "We'll get back to him later when we have more time,” we say. Only, later may never come.

John Henry Newman felt God's call to him in life and reflected on it with a beautiful prayer. But first, who was John Henry Newman? He was a scholar and an intellectual who lived in England from 1801 to 1890. He dabbled with atheism early in his life, but then God called. He couldn't put him off. He sought God in religion, in the Church of England, or Anglican Church. He became an Anglican priest and continued his studies of Christianity at Oxford University. In 1845 he wrote that as he studied more and more the writings of the early Fathers of the Church, he was convinced that the Catholics were the closest followers of Christianity in its original form.

He had a deep respect for the Anglican Church, but he heard God calling him to become a Catholic. This was an extremely difficult decision that affected his life in every way possible. He could no longer teach at Oxford. He could no longer preach in the Anglican Churches. He was a patriotic Englishman who was embracing those people whom he had referred to as "our traditional enemies.” But God was calling. John Henry Newman was not about to send Him to voice mail. He became a Catholic and led the movement of Anglican scholars to Catholicism called the Oxford Movement. He became a Roman Catholic priest, and eventually was even made a cardinal.

On September 19, 2010 Pope Benedict XVI beatified Cardinal Newman. Blessed Cardinal Newman wrote this beautiful prayer which is a reflection not just on his life but on all our lives:
"God has created me for some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I may never know exactly what that mission is in this life. I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in a great work. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. I shall do good. I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, even if I do not realize what I am doing. But, if I keep His commandments, I will serve Him in my calling.” What is your calling? What is my calling?

The general answer to those questions is simple: we are called to know, love and serve God. But how? How are each of us called to serve God? The particular answer to this question is a mystery, the mystery of our lives. The mystery enfolds every time we respond to God's call. We come before the Lord today and ask for the grace to be attune to God's call in our lives. And we pray for the courage to answer His call rather than send it to voice mail. We pray that when He calls we will respond, "Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
2 Ordinary Time
Becoming a Missionary Disciple Week 1: Meeting Jesus and Inviting Others
(January 14, 2018)

Bottom line: It doesn't require perfection to encounter Jesus. And we don't need to be perfect to invite others.
When Archbishop Sartain recently met with priests he shared a dream: That we would transform our world, our country, our families by inviting people to an encounter with Jesus - that our top priority will be to help people meet Jesus. When that happens you can expect surprises. Jesus may say, "come and see." Come and spend time with me. But that's not all. Jesus may send you as a missionary disciple. A missionary disciple is someone who has met the Lord and who then invites others. In the coming weeks we will see aspects of missionary discipleship. That theme is perfect for our readings. Today we hear God calling Samuel in the middle of the night. And the boy Samuel answers, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Jesus in broad daylight calls a man named Andrew. He becomes the first missionary disciple. We should pay attention to Andrew. He shows what missionary discipleship means. He goes to his brother and shares something important. I don't know about you, but I don't find it easy to share something personal with a brother. What if he laughs? Or worse, what if he says nothing? Or changes the subject? But Andrew forges ahead. "We have found the Messiah," he says, "the Christ, the Anointed One." He takes his brother to Jesus and Jesus does the rest. Simon, son of Jonah, says Jesus to him, I give you a new name - Cephas, in Greek Petros. It's the root of words like petroglyph and petrify. It mean rock. Jesus call Peter the Rock not because of what he is, but because of what he will become. Or to be more exact, what Jesus would accomplish through him - make him the Rock where he would build his Church.

But what about Andrew? Andrew is the first called. Did he resent Jesus elevating his brother? If so, he never lets on. Andrew shows an essential quality of a missionary disciple. He knows, "It's not about me, it's about Jesus."

We need missionary disciples like Andrew. When Archbishop Sartain shared his dream, he also confronted some hard realities: Since 2011 Mass attendance in the Archdiocese has declined 7% and the number priests assigned to parishes has dropped from 124 to 103. Church weddings have reached a record low of 1,161. That may seem like quite a few, but when you consider we have 145 parish, it means an average of only eight weddings per year per parish. I'm glad to say we are doing a little better here. At St. Mary of the Valley we have done things to promote the sacrament of matrimony. I inherited the custom of each month blessing those with an anniversary of matrimony. Also I love to bless engaged couples. We want to help them have a beautiful marriage. On that line you will notice the bulletin has a brochure letting people know what we offer as far as wedding receptions. Getting married and founding a family is still a significant place to hear Jesus' voice. John the Baptist calls him the Lamb of God. For sure, like a lamb, Jesus is gentle, but more to point: Like a sacrificial lamb, Jesus offers himself for forgiveness of sins.

A person might feel fearful about meeting Jesus. We all struggle with sin and guilt. Guilt doesn't belong just to Catholics. It belongs to humans who reach the age of reason. The person who feels no guilt is called a sociopath or a psychopath. Next week we'll talk about guilt - the good, the bad and the ugly - and what Jesus wants us to do about it. For today I underscore that it doesn't require perfection to encounter Jesus. And we don't need to be perfect to invite others. Like Andrew we want to reach our own relatives, especially our children. Many parishioners began the New Year with a three day fast for them. Some of you told me that even though it was difficult, it was also an exhilarating experience - and you saw blessings from the combined fast and prayer. Consider making a weekly day of fast and prayer. Ultimately we want to trust Jesus, not ourselves. And we want to invite others. Make the invitation as best you can. Then be like Eli. He said to the young Samuel, "If you are called, reply, Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Amen.

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
2 Ordinary Time
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Classic
John 1: 35–42

Gospel Summary
John the Baptist, standing with two of his disciples, upon seeing Jesus exclaims, "Behold, the Lamb of God." When Jesus notices that John's disciples are following him, he says to them, "What are you looking for?" They reply, "Rabbi, where are you staying?" Jesus responds, "Come, and you will see." Andrew, one of the disciples, goes to find his brother Simon, tells him they have found the Messiah, and introduces his brother to Jesus. Jesus looks at him and says, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas (which is translated Peter)."

Life Implications
There is a true story about a professor who was invited to give a lecture at a major conference on religion. The subject of his lecture was the nature of God. His many hours of research were rewarded by the enthusiastic response he received upon completion of the lecture. On the flight back to his university, however, his euphoric satisfaction about his work was shattered when it dawned on him, as he later reported: "I talked to everyone about God, but God." We can easily have an experience similar to that of the professor as he was preparing his lecture about God. With a little research we can discover many interesting, even beautiful things about Jesus and his disciples.

Thus, in today's gospel passage, we discover that when the two disciples ask Jesus where he is staying or dwelling the question isn't simply about a street address. John uses the same Greek verb (translated as "staying or dwelling") when Jesus at the Last Supper tells his disciples that he "dwells" in the Father and the Father "dwells" in him (John 14: 10–11). We also discover that when Jesus says "Come, and you will see," the essential meaning of "seeing" is the seeing of faith (John 9). Only with that seeing can the disciples know where Jesus truly dwells, with-in the Father.

Thus far there is no life-implication for us beyond appreciation of a narrative about Jesus and his disciples. A life-changing implication occurs only when we realize that Jesus is addressing each of us today in as personal a way as he addressed the two disciples. The gospel is essentially about an encounter with the Risen Lord now, not about historical knowledge, however orthodox, about Jesus. The historical-critical method of scholarship (like John the Baptist) can give us valuable information about Jesus, but this knowledge cannot enable us to see Jesus in faith—that seeing is a gift of the Spirit. Because faith means a personal union of friendship with Christ through his Spirit, life implications will be unique and particular for each person.

Nevertheless, from the life of Christ and the lives of the saints, certain patterns emerge that are actualized in the particularity of each person's life. Union with the Risen Lord means to share his relationship with the Father. It means that each of us is able to hear with Christ "You are my beloved" and to say with Christ "Thy will be done." To be in communion with Christ means to pray, always and everywhere. The second reading of today's Mass (1 Corinthians 7: 32–35) shows us that a disciple's personal union with Christ through his Spirit is the foundation of choices about moral behavior. Finally, we see that through union with Christ the saints are not defeated by the setbacks of life. Saint Paul speaks for them all when he wrote: "What will separate us from the love of Christ?

Will anguish, or distress, oWill anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us" (Romans 8: 35–37). Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time,
Modern Gospel –John 1: 35 - 42

We begin ordinary time with this account of the beginning of the ministry of Jesus, which means that in a few short weeks we have advanced thirty years in the life of John the Baptist and Jesus. John was faithful to his vocation and was preparing the way for the Lord, by calling people to repentance as a preparation for the Messiah. He is the last Prophet and a powerful preacher, who attracted some disciples. We see the fidelity and humility of John when he said to two of his disciples as Jesus passed by; "Behold, the Lamb of God." These two disciples left John to follow Jesus, and their initial conversation was brief and telling. Jesus asked them; "What are you looking for?" and they answered his question with a question, "Where are you staying?" Jesus gave them the invitation; "Come and you will see." les, Andrew the brother of Peter, and John, the brother of James, followed Jesus and never turned back. It was such an important encounter that they remembered the exact time of the day when they met Jesus, four in the afternoon. Meeting Jesus was life changing for them and the moment they first met him would never be forgotten. My father and his army buddies would talk about where they were when they heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Saint (Mother) Theresa of Calcutta would talk about where she was when she heard the strong, clear call from God to work with the poorest of the poor while on a train to Darjeeling. And we all probably have events in our lives that we remember with such vividness even to the smallest detail.

This was the experience of Andrew and James. The effect it had on each of them is obvious as they remained followers of Jesus and became two of the twelve apostles. We also know that Andrew was so touched by his initial encounter with Jesus that he went to share the news with his brother Peter, telling him, "We have found the Messiah." It seems that James acted similarly and shared this encounter with his brother John. From this brief, initial encounter with Jesus we have four of the twelve apostles. According to the Scriptures this took place before Jesus ever preached in a synagogue or performed a miracle. This part of his ministry would take place later. It was being in the presence of Jesus that attracted and touched these men, and led them to change their lives. They left everything to follow him, and ultimately Andrew, Peter, and James willingly laid down their lives in martyrdom out of their love and faithfulness to Jesus, while John, though not a martyr, suffered much because of his faith.

In our journey of faith many of us were probably Baptized as infants and brought up in the faith. However, there was some point in our lives when we freely decided to follow Jesus, or to continue to follow him. There are moments that stand out for us when we experienced the powerful and beautiful presence of Jesus. This could have been when we received one of the Sacraments, or on a retreat day or weekend, or at a time and place when we least expected to encounter Jesus. As we begin the Liturgical Season known as Ordinary Time, take time to reflect on these personal encounters with the lord, whether they be ordinary or extraordinary. Allow the memory of these experiences to be the beginning of a year of growth in our relationship with the Lord. Like, Andrew, James, Peter and John may it be a lifetime of growing in our experience of God’s love.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
2 Ordinary Time
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

There is an interesting little parallelism which occurs in the Gospel passage today. The text says that when Jesus passed by John the Baptist 'looked hard at him' and said, 'Look, there is the Lamb of God.' Then later on Jesus 'looked hard at Peter' and said, 'You are to be called Cephas, meaning rock.' Different translations have chosen to render these words slightly differently. In the Catholic Church in the British Isles we generally use the Jerusalem translation and it has the words 'looked hard' but other translations say just 'looked at him' or sometimes they translate the two phrases slightly differently having one as 'saw him' and the other as 'looked at him'.

Now I'm no Greek scholar, but the commentaries say that the very same word in Greek is used for both. This word 'emblepein' literally means to fix one's eye upon someone. Now, it might seem a very small point but I think these two occurrences of the same word ought to be translated exactly the same. And clearly here this word when translated ought to mean something much more than a merely passing glance. I believe that this fixing of the eyes by John the Baptist on Jesus and then by Jesus on Peter is a deep recognition by both of them that the object of their attention has real and vital significance. Clearly identifying the Messiah is the very purpose of John's mission and when Jesus passes him by on that particular occasion John fixes his eyes on him and in that moment of recognition he becomes fully aware that this truly is the Messiah and the time for him to be revealed has now arrived.

I think the very same thing happens when Jesus encounters Peter. He fixes his eyes on Peter and at that moment knows that this is the man who will head up the Church once Jesus himself has returned to the Father. What we are dealing with here then is a moment of recognition, a critical point when the significance of a person's role suddenly becomes clear. It is as if the scales fall from the eyes and the full understanding of the importance of the object of one's attention is arrived at in a moment of profound insight. John's whole aim and purpose in life was to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah. It sounds as if he worked very hard to do this and he fulfilled this mission as well as he could. We must not forget that he obviously knew Jesus who was one of his cousins, after all. But it seems as though it was only at that specific moment when he walked by that John suddenly understood precisely who Jesus really was. John's two disciples do not need any urging; they have been so well prepared by their master that they simply leave him standing there and begin to follow Christ. They ask Jesus where he lives and he responds with the famous words, 'Come and see.'

Now it might surprise us that John does not follow Jesus himself, but from that moment steps into the background. I think that we have to realise that John knows that his mission is now accomplished and he has nothing more of significance to do. Neither does he need disciples anymore and so is quite content that they take up with Jesus. John steps into the background and we hear no more about him until we are told of his grisly death at the hands of the brutal King Herod. The second of these knowing looks occurs between Jesus and Peter, but I think that in this case it is more for Peter's benefit than for that of Jesus. It is a look of recognition and an understanding by Jesus that the right man has been found for the work in hand. But you can imagine that look in the eye had far more effect on Peter than it did on Jesus.

It is hard for us to imagine, but to suddenly be introduced to the Messiah and for him to look you in the eye in a most powerful way must have been most disconcerting for Peter. Then for him to make a pun on your name and call you 'rock' when surely Peter was feeling anything other than rocklike. His knees were probably like jelly. He most likely realised at that moment that Jesus had something in store for him but didn't yet know what. There is another interesting little detail in the text; it states that this discovery of Jesus took place at the tenth hour, in other words at four o'clock in the afternoon. We know that John was writing his Gospel something more than fifty years after the events in question and yet he still recalls the exact time at which this moment of recognition occurred.

In addition, you might have noticed that there were two disciples who followed Jesus and yet only Andrew's name is given in the text. We know that John never referred to himself directly in his Gospel. Instead of his name he usually says 'the disciple Jesus loved'. The scholars argue therefore that the disciple whose name is not given is most likely to be John. The reason John remembers the time so clearly, even fifty years later, is because he was there. And he knows exactly what the time was because that encounter with Christ was undoubtedly the most significant event of his life. If we were asked the question as to what was the most significant moment in our life we might answer the day I met my partner in life or the birth of our first child or something similar. But John has it absolutely right; the most significant moment in life for us is when we met Our Blessed Lord for the very first time and recognised precisely who he was.

It is at that moment that we are faced with the choice of whether to follow Christ or not, to become his disciple or not. John knows the profound significance of that moment and realises the completely transforming effect that this encounter has had on him. It led to him dedicating his whole life to the cause of the Gospel and to the spreading of belief in Jesus Christ, the one true Saviour of the World. There is a lesson for us here and it is that we should scrape the dust from our memories and try to recapture that moment when we realised the true significance of Jesus Christ and made the decision to follow him. That was the one really life changing moment that has occurred to us, it is the crucial event that opened us up to the transformative power of a relationship with our Divine Saviour and set us on the royal road to heaven.

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