Friday, 12 January 2018

January 14th 2018.  Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Gospel: John 1:35-42
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio

Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading ...

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GOSPEL John 1:35-42
As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.
One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.
The Gospel of the LordPraise to you Lord Jesus Christ

Kieran’s summary . . . In the first reading the Lord is calling Samuel, but Samuel does not recognize the call until he receives the guidance of Eli. In the Gospel, John the Baptist leads Andrew to Jesus, and then Andrew in turn leads Peter to the Lord. That is how the life of faith is: we need others to lead us into a deeper relationship with the Lord, a relationship in which our deepest identity is transformed and our very name is changed, as happened to Simon. And once we have had our own personal and profound encounter with the Lord, then we too can become mediators who lead others to him. How often we try to take our own self-sufficient path! How often we think that we can make progress by going it alone and focussing on ourselves! If we live in this way then we cannot lead others to Christ. This chain of faith is a delicate thing and we can betray it by not heeding the guidance of others, or by becoming false guides who only lead to ourselves. The Lord loves us to participate in his work and to assist in bringing others to the faith. John the Baptist is our great example. He never points to himself but only to Jesus, the true source of independence and freedom.

In the Gospel, people are led to Christ by people who point Jesus out. Then these people in turn lead others to the Lord
Many things are contained in this text for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, but we will use the first reading as the key for reading the Gospel. In the Gospel, John the Baptist sees Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Two of his disciples hear him and begin to follow Jesus. Jesus takes them to where he lives and begins an encounter with them. The passage continues: “One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus”. John leads two of his disciples to Jesus. These disciples encounter the Lord and then, the following day, they do exactly what John the Baptist did for them! They lead others to the Lord. Simon in turn has such a powerful encounter with the Lord that his name is changed that very day. The person who is led to the Lord becomes a person who leads others to him. This is how we come to Jesus, by the fact that someone shows him to us, a person who leads, a person who invites, a person who indicates.

In the first reading, Eli helps Samuel to see that he is being called by the Lord. We too have need of the help of others if we are to get to know Jesus more deeply. And we too have the responsibility to lead others to Christ
The first reading tells the story of Samuel. This is one of the great prophets of Israel, one who governs his people. He leads them through the period of transformation in which they become a monarchy, anointing first Saul and then David, the beginning of the dynastic succession that will eventually lead to Jesus. And how did Samuel become such a great leader of his people? Because he too allowed himself to be led. The first reading, in fact, tells us that the Lord called on Samuel four times. It is only at the third call that Samuel gets prepared to respond to the Lord because at this point he is assisted by Eli, the priest. Eli instructs him as to how to respond to the call of the Lord. When the Lord summoned Samuel originally, the prophet did not understand that he was being called, but Eli understood and instructed Samuel to give the Lord his assent. This assent enables Samuel to become more fully himself, the prophet that he was destined to be. But he needed the help of Eli to guide him in the right path. Thus the first reading underlines this theme of the Gospel: the Lord does not come to us except through the help of another person. We tend to strive to make our way along our own autonomous path, a self-referential path in which we nurture the illusion of absolute self-sufficiency. We think that we can get by on our own steam even when it comes to important issues of life such as our relationship with the Lord. In reality we have a great need of guidance in all of the important areas of our lives. Incredibly, we are also called to be guides for others. The Lord Jesus loves to be assisted by us. He loves when we act as mediators who bring others to him. He loves to be made known through these means chosen by him. In the life of the Spirit we have need of the assistance of others. No-one is able to stand alone on his own two feet. In order to come to Jesus we need people who will tell us about him, assist us in understanding him. And we in our turn have the responsibility to build up the faith of others.

Others can lead us to Jesus but we must then have our own personal and profound encounter with him. Only then can we in our turn be mediators that bring others to Christ. A true guide leads people to Jesus, not to himself

The faith is something we learn from the Church, from someone who teaches it to us, who writes within our hearts those directions that we need in order to make our own personal, direct encounter with the Lord. In the Gospel, the first two disciples have a personal encounter with Jesus, and they do this because they follow the directions of the Baptist. Simon’s name gets changed to “Peter” because he follows the indications given to him by his brother, Andrew. In other words, he too has an experience that is personal and profound. None of us can reach what is important in life without the help of our brothers and sisters, without the assistance of someone who guides us. This chain of grace is a delicate thing and it is easy for us to betray it. We can refuse to follow the directions of those who lead us in the faith, and, equally, we can become deceitful guides ourselves, guides who do not lead people to Jesus but lead people to ourselves. Note how John the Baptist does not point to himself but to Jesus! This is the role of the true guide! The true guide does not lead to something that ultimately depends on himself. Rather he leads people to Jesus, and Jesus is the source of true independence and freedom.

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