World day of migrants and refugees
by Bro. Pádraig McDonald
Todays reading is full of action and movement, it reminds you a rush hour scene, people rushing, people passing by, bumping into each other, mixture of overheard clipped words, bits of conversation that are brief and half finished. “What are you looking for?”; “Where are you staying?”.
Seems a crowded place, conscious of the time, what they have to do.
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, we appreciate people who open doors for us. These are encounters at crucial moments in our lives that point us in the right direction. It was just not a meeting. It was an encounter, there is a difference between the two. After a meeting people can still be strangers and go their separate ways. But in an encounter, they open their hearts to one another. They pour out their most precious depths and secrets. After an encounter there is a bond formed which they want to remain with.
Some encounters can greatly influence our lives. They are an influence of good on us, allowed us to benefit from an experience they had or some insight they made. These people have a huge generosity and freedom to benefit others in the way they do.
John the Baptist is portrayed in the gospel today as one who recognised Jesus as a revelation of God’s love. He shared this with his own disciples, even if that meant losing them to Jesus. By pointing them in the direction of Jesus, he opened a door for them. We could probably all identify a John the Baptist, an Andrew in our lives, who in the same way pointed us to the Lord.
Some might see our parents as people who pointed us the Lord as we grew up, they helped us to grow in our relationship with Christ by praying with us, reading us stories about Him, helping us prepare for sacraments.
Jesus want’s to engage with those who are searching. He enters our adult lives in response to our deepest longing and desires. In our searching quest we can meet someone who opens a door for us into a deeper relationship with the Lord.
The reading today are inviting us to be open to the many ways the Lord can draw us to himself and also to the way that he may be calling us to help him in drawing others to himself.
John the Baptist and Andrew all had one thing in common. They enabled others to grow spiritually. They helped others grow in their relationship with the Lord.
We are called to perform this same service for each other. We do not journey to God on our own. We need each other’s generous witness if we are to find and take the path God is calling us to take.
Todays gospel invites us to become a John the Baptist or an Andrew for others.
Scripture readings: Courtesy of Universalis Publishing Ltd. – www.universalis.com
Reflections and Prayers by Fr Jack Finnegan SDB
1st Reading – 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord, where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ Then he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli said, ‘I did not call. Go back and lie down.’ So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ He replied, ‘I did not call you, my son; go back and lie down.’ Samuel had as yet no knowledge of the Lord and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, since you called me.’ Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord then came and stood by, calling as he had done before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Samuel answered, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’
Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground.
Today we meditate on Samuel’s call and his growth as a prophet. The final verse in our reading makes the key point: Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect. Can you make the link to Jesus’s own growth and development? Can you see the profound implications of Jesus’s baptismal experience, or the way John the Baptist recognised him as the Lamb of God? Here is the question: What does it really mean to live a prophetic life? The answer depends on how open are we to God’s call and the example we give! How willing are we to listen to God? How ready are we to say with Samuel: Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening? People who live prophetic lives intentionally listen to God and discern God’s plan for their lives! You know them by their fruit!
LORD, Adonai, you called Samuel out of his sleep. He only discovered it was you the third time because you did not give up on him. He did not know you then as he would soon come to know you. How easy it is for us to fall asleep. How easy it is for us to misunderstand. How easy it is for us to seek meaning in other places. Do not give up on us! Be persistent in calling us to wake up to who we are and who you are! Grant each of us the grace to respond to you with integrity and say with Samuel and Jesus: Here I am Lord! Speak, LORD, your servant is listening! And then, like Samuel, Mary and Jesus, help us to do your will and be of service to those in need. Now and forever. Amen!
Psalm – Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10
If we read today’s responsorial psalm in the light of the Letter to the Hebrews we will understand that it is above all Christ who proclaims: Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will. And Jesus does God’s will in every aspect of his human existence: in his birth, his hidden life, his baptism in the Jordan, his public ministry, and in his passion, death and resurrection. Jesus is the one who sings the New Song. He is the one who delights to do the will of God. He is the one who announces God’s justice to the people. And he is the one who refuses to be silenced when God’s liberating truth is at stake. Are we ready to walk in his path? Are we ready to say with the saints: Here I am? Are we ready to say with Mary: Be it done?
LORD, Adonai, teach us how to wait for you as the prophets did. Teach us how to place you at the centre of our lives. Teach us how to open the ears of our hearts to you. Teach us how to sing new songs of praise to you. Teach us how to truly delight in you and walk in your sacred way. Sow your living word in the very depths of our lives. Most of all, grant us the courage to stand for justice! May we refuse the enticing ways of corruption as Samuel and Jesus did, and the saints. Amen!
2nd Reading – 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a,17-20
The body is not meant for fornication: it is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. God, who raised the Lord from the dead, will by his power raise us up too.
You know, surely, that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ; do you think I can take parts of Christ’s body and join them to the body of a prostitute? Never! But anyone who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.
Keep away from fornication. All the other sins are committed outside the body; but to fornicate is to sin against your own body. Your body, you know, is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you since you received him from God. You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God.
Paul’s message is straight forward. He wants us to understand that as Christians we are called to place every aspect of our lives, our whole being, under the Lordship of Christ. That is what discipleship means. Whatever we do that removes us from the Lordship of Christ is therefore seriously problematic for disciples. Are we ready to shout and throw off the authority of dark oppression as Bar Timaeus did at the gates of Jericho? How else are we to show what it means to be the body of Christ? How else are we to express what it means to be temples of the Holy Spirit? How else are we to show that we are following Jesus along the way? How else are we to witness prophetically in his Name if not in the life transforming power of the Spirit?
Lord Jesus, you make us your body. Make us temples of your Spirit. Call us again to unity and integrity in every aspect of life and action. Be Lord of our lives. Be Lord of our concerns and relationships. Protect us from the things that diminish the beauty of your presence in us and all of creation. Help us grow in our love for you. Help us blossom in the freedom you give us. Give us the courage always to be true. Now and forever. Amen!
Gospel Reading – 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.
Today’s gospel invites us to meditate on John’s account of the call of the first disciples. It is the story of an invitation and a response. It is the story of a living process, of change. Notice how the focus of discipleship moves from John the Baptist to Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Servant of God, God’s Beloved Son, the Holy One who brings everything to awe-inspiring completion. That is why John’s disciples ask Jesus: Where are you staying? The spiritual meaning of that question and its implications is best expressed using another word frequently encountered in John’s gospel: Where do you abide? A building is not at issue here. An utterly transforming relationship with God in Christ is. And what does the invitation to these disciples to come and see mean? Again, does it refer to a building or a relationship? Remember: Whatever they saw brought about a profound movement of faith in them, a renewal and a rebirth. What do we see when we look at Christ? Are we ready for change, to live prophetic lives? Are we ready to abide in Christ as he abides in God? Are we ready for oneness and all its implications? Are we ready to be branches to Christ’s sacred vine? Servants of the Servant? Are we open to the transforming gift of union with all its social implications?
Lord Jesus, in the Jordan the Baptist recognised you as the Lamb of God, God’s Beloved Son, the Holy One of Israel. Then he sent his disciples to you. They spent time with you and they, too, recognised you in faith. Then they shared that faith with others and brought them to meet you. Teach us to do the same. Teach us how to abide in you day by day. Teach us how to be one with you and bring others to you. Inspire us through the wisdom of the Spirit to spend time with you. Help us to know you, to truly understand the Wonderful One, Abba, with whom you abide. Bless us with your Spirit that we may grow in our love for you and so serve God’s vision in the world and among all the living. Help us stand up and reach out to those in need. Amen!
Word of God and Salesian Life by Fr Juan José Bartolomé SDB
John records the modest beginnings of Jesus’ ministry. Although still unknown, he is recognised by some of the followers of John the Baptist. Two of them follow him, curious only to know where he lived, and they spend a day with him. It is enough if even one of them recognises him as the Messiah. The account is not an accurate biography, but a theological reflection. Jesus must have witnesses if he is to emerge from anonymity, and this is true now as it was then. The interest in Jesus may be very little. If it is enough to convince people to want to spend a day with him in his house, then they will get to know him well, and this experience will never be forgotten. Anyone who meets him will then go and find his brother, and introduce him to the Lord he has just discovered. Anyone who comes to see Jesus, whether led by his brother or simply moved by curiosity, will feel understood and appreciated, as Peter did, and will receive a new mission in life. To find Christ is to find a new reason for living. The passage is an admirable description of how we can begin our discipleship of Christ!
Read: understand what the text is saying, focussing on how it says it
On the third day, as soon as he had been identified as Lamb of God, and precisely because of this, Jesus was followed by two of the disciples of John the Baptist (Jn 1, 37). According to the fourth gospel, discipleship is born out of the testimony of John the Baptist and is the first consequence of John’s testimony. This presentation is unique in the gospel tradition. It may well reflect the historical origins of the community to which John the evangelist belonged. Some of its first members had been disciples of John the Baptist before becoming followers of Jesus.
In relating the meeting of the first disciples with Jesus, the fourth evangelist emphasizes the ability of Jesus to attract, even seduce, those he meets, and to make them his companions in a very short space of time. In John, as in the synoptics (Mk 1,2-8; Mt 3,1-12; Lk 3,15-17), the story of Jesus’ ministry opens with John the Baptist (Jn 1,19-28). John, however, omits the baptism of Jesus (Mk 1,9-11) and the temptations (Mk 1,12-13), and begins his account of the life and ministry of Jesus with the call of the first disciples.
In John’s account, Jesus does not call with a powerful invitation, “Follow me”, (cf Mk 1, 17.19). He attracts people to himself without saying a word, in response to their desires and needs (Jn 1, 38). And in John, Jesus does not wait until after he has proclaimed the kingdom and the urgent need for conversion to call his disciples (cf Mk 1, 14-15). He does so after he has been identified as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1, 29). In John, Jesus does not choose brothers whom he has seen at work. Rather, he is sought by disciples of the Baptist who then bring their brothers or friends to him, that they too may come to know him. In John, Jesus does not bring his first disciples to Capernaum on the Sabbath to let them see how he teaches with authority (cf Mk 1, 21). He brings them instead to take part in a wedding feast in Cana to which he had been invited (Jn 2, 2).
This is the beginning of a story of faith, of a unique adventure which consists in the discovery of Jesus’ personal ministry, a story which, as John tells it, takes place in the space of just two days (Jn 1, 35-42.43-51). It goes through various stages: reliable testimony about Jesus (Jn 1, 36.41.45), meeting him (Jn 1, 184.108.40.206.49) and profession of faith (Jn1,41.45.49). The third stage in discipleship corresponds to the first meeting with Jesus of the two disciples of John the Baptist who are as yet unnamed (Jn 1, 35.37.40). It seems they did not even have good reason for following him. They had already heard Jesus being proclaimed as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1, 29). When Jesus asked them what they wanted, they responded only by asking him where he lived. This was a poor reason for going in search of Jesus! And yet these were his first disciples!
Meditate: apply what the text says to life
The account of the first two men who decided to follow Jesus, without even knowing where he was leading them, invites us to reflect on our Christian vocation. Speaking of vocation may seem off-putting nowadays. We must not forget, however, that we are living a Christian life only because Jesus has called us. The account of the call of the first two disciples teaches us a lot. The people who follow Jesus do so, not because they choose to, but because they have been invited. It was not those who were close to him who remained with him. It was not his relatives and friends who followed him. Jesus approached people who were curious enough to want to know him more closely. In the story of those first two disciples, God reveals how he normally goes about calling people to serve him. Let us reflect together on that scene, with attentive hearts, and try to imagine the circumstances and the manner in which Jesus calls people today.
We start with a fact that is emphasized by John but is often overlooked: the day after his baptism, Jesus passed unnoticed among the people. He was able to move unrecognised among the people who still did not know him, but he was recognised by those who were expecting him. The Baptist was the only one who really knew who he was. When someone is expecting Jesus, he will be able to find him in situations where others are unable to recognise his presence. Recognizing Jesus, today as in the past, is possible only for those who feel his absence in their lives and their desire for him. Then, when they know who he is, they are able to proclaim him to others. John lost two of his disciples when he told them that the man who was passing was the Lamb of God. John loses followers, so that Jesus will gain some. Simply by passing by, Jesus makes it possible for two of John’s disciples to get to know him and stay close to him for some time.
The first meeting of Jesus with those two disciples was very ordinary, like any normal encounter. And yet there was something decisive about it. The initiative came from Jesus who turned to meet them as he was passing by. When someone is expecting Jesus, meeting him becomes an invitation to follow him. Those disciples of John the Baptist were expecting something better of life, and were committed to becoming better. That was their reason for following John who was preaching a message of conversion. They were already well disposed. All they were lacking was to know Jesus. They did not need to know too much about him, to take the risk of going to meet him. They did not even know where he lived, or where they would finish up if they began to follow him. Deciding to follow Jesus does not demand too much. We ought to be embarrassed to think that those two men decided to follow him just to know where he lived! A bit of curiosity, and courage, was enough for them to follow someone they still did not know.
If his first two disciples knew so little about Jesus, then we who want to follow him today should not ask too many questions about him beforehand. The less we know of him, the more questions we will have for him when we meet him. Not knowing him will make it easier for us to ask him questions. But the reality is that we, the disciples of today, know much more about Jesus than those first disciples did. Sadly, we know so much that we don’t feel the need to get to know him better, and consequently we don’t feel the need to spend time with him. A bit more curiosity would make us better disciples, at least as good as those first two!
They wanted to know where he lived, and they succeeded in getting an invitation from Jesus to come and stay with him. This is the second stage for anyone who wants to be a disciple. He must pass from mere curiosity to spending time with Jesus, staying with him, getting to know him from close-up, no longer depending on what he has heard from others. Hearing Jesus speak, seeing him act, sharing a meal and relaxing with him, walking alongside him, contemplating everything he does – all this is what transforms people into authentic followers of Jesus. He found his first disciples in two men who stayed only one day with him.
Think of what we deprive ourselves of by not being willing to spend a day with Jesus. We are afraid he will call us, so we avoid his company and his message. We are so afraid of his invitation that we do not give him the chance to count on us. Anyone who dares to follow him even for a day, and is determined to get to know him personally, will surely remain fascinated by him and drawn to follow him for the whole of his life. That is what happened to those first two disciples. And their good fortune could also be ours! All we need do is to take the risk of spending a bit of time with Jesus.
They were so delighted with the time they spent with him that one of them became his witness. Andrew lost no time in looking for his brother and convincing him of his good fortune – he had found the Christ and he could not hide the fact. The first disciple was the apostle of the prince of the apostles! Andrew brought his brother to Jesus, and Jesus made him the rock on which his community was founded. We who have been followers of Jesus for a long time ought to be ashamed of our lack of enthusiasm and the poor Christian witness we give to the people around us. When will we realize that we ought to bring to Christ the people who are closest to our hearts, those nearest to us whom we love most and who matter most to us?
When some day we lead our brothers to Jesus, as Andrew did, then our joy will increase. Staying with Jesus will mean staying with those we love most. Unfortunately, the disciples of Christ at the present time do not dare to speak of their experience of Jesus even to the people they love most. When we deprive them of our enthusiasm, and hide our faith from them, Jesus does not call them to follow him. We run the risk of losing our own family members simply because we are too embarrassed to give witness to our faith and to speak to them about our Christian life. And if we do not dare to speak even to our own families, to whom will we speak, and who will understand us better than they?
If we still want to be transformed into disciples of Jesus, we must follow the example of those first two disciples. We must not let Jesus pass by unnoticed. We should benefit from all that is said of him and allow ourselves to be guided by those who know him better than we do. We should come to Jesus with the intention of getting to know him personally. What we have heard about him from others does not spare us the personal adventure of spending time with him, and the effort to follow him on the road. And when we know well who he really is, let us return to our loved ones and share with them our first impression of Jesus. Then we will be the kind of disciples Jesus needs. What happened at the beginning, when Jesus was setting out to preach the kingdom of God, can happen again in our day. This is our opportunity!