Friends, we can hardly miss that last Sunday we were at the crib with the baby and now today we are with Jesus as he begins his public ministry. Other than his visit to the temple when he was 12 on the occasion of his bar mitzvah; we don’t know much about those “lost” years between then and when he began to share publicly what God, his Abba had sent him to do.
With the help of our imaginations, as Joan Chittister names, “a distinct gift from God;” we can assume that this passage of time included much listening, much communing with his Abba—another term for Loving Parent, about just what he was to do.
He no doubt spent a good deal of time studying the Torah, the first five books of the Bible that all good Jews were knowledgeable in, the Psalms of David and the Prophets. It was the words of the prophet, Isaiah that he would later come to proclaim and fulfill, “I have come to bring good news to the poor,” and so on.
It is good for us to try and imagine what this “coming out” must have been like for Jesus—he left the comfort of his hometown to show himself around the Jordan River where John the Baptist was preaching. He apparently looked like everyone else—nothing outstanding as John had to point him out to his disciples and friends, “There is the Lamb of God!” and instructed them to follow him, now. These two, Andrew and John must have had great faith to have left the Baptist and follow Jesus, whom they didn’t know. Could we have done that?
Then, it is good to reflect on the interchange between Jesus and his first two disciples. When they catch up with Jesus, he asks them, “What are you looking for?” At this beginning of another new year, we too might ponder Jesus’ question, “Just what are YOU looking for?” What would make your life better, in the truest sense of the word?” Could you imagine it?
Their response to Jesus tells us a great deal—they want to know where he is staying! This is a question that tells Jesus that they want to come to know him much better. We might think about this question in terms of two people dating for a while and at a certain point they want to take their special friend home to meet their family—to share what they have found!
Jesus’ answer is equally intimate; “Come and see!” These first two disciples found Jesus to be the One they had been waiting for—by spending time with him, listening to his words—which, by the way, is a very good definition of prayer. In all of this, these first disciples came to know him as the Messiah.
The readings for this Sunday as we transition once again into Ordinary Time for a few Sundays before we begin the Season of Lent on February 14th, call us to be listeners, intent on hearing God’s voice. Sister Joan Chittister, through her monthly calendar, The Monastic Way, is taking this New Year to look at women who imagined great things and acted upon those imaginings–St. Joan of Arc was burned as a heretic for claiming that God talked to her through her imagination and when questioned about this seeming phenomenon, she answered, “How else would God speak to me; if not through my imagination?”
Samuel, in today’s first reading is told to listen and if he hears God’s voice, he should reply, “Yahweh, I am listening.” He already had a sense of being present to Eli, the prophet and knew that when he heard Eli call, he should say, “Here I am,” which meant he was ready to do the prophet’s bidding. Samuel was soon to learn that his response to God should be the same, “Here I am!”
Are we ready to do what God may be asking of us on this day, in our time? And how will we know if it is truly God who is calling? My kind of litmus test for if it is God calling is if “peace” also comes with the request—somewhat the feeling of, “I can do this!” And while I may not be entirely sure, I am at peace that I won’t do it alone, that God will be with me. Maybe this is the year that I can step out of my comfort zone and respond to Jesus’ request to, “Come and see.”
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is basically a discussion between the material and spiritual world. He is trying to help them see that following Jesus’ call means that they should respect themselves and others—try to be their best selves, try to seek after good and that good will come back to them. It is through Jesus’ Spirit that we can come to know our God better, become more able to see God in others—which is really, “communion” again, in the truest sense of the word.”
The Spirit was alive and well at the Golden Globe awards a week ago when the whole program was transformed by women and the men who support them speaking their truth in a way they have never been able to before due to the unnamed sexual abuse and domination that was present in Hollywood. The climate this year was changed due to those brave women who have come forward this last year through the “Me Too” movement, exposing the pain and suffering which came to be accepted as, “the way it is!” Women in all walks of life have said definitively through another movement that, “TimesUp.”
Time is up to accept anything less than to be treated with the respect that is due each person. Now-is-the-time, especially for Christians and all other believers, for those in fact, who claim to be human, to open their eyes to the abuse that we give license to when we do not respect the fact that we are all equal and treat each other that way—that I am not better than you and you are no better than me.
It is to each of us, wonderfully made by the Creator, that Jesus came to-be-one-with. Let us make a New Year’s resolution that we will listen well to each other’s stories and remember that we cannot truly thrive in this world on the backs, the souls of others. Our world needs now, people who can imagine a better existence for all of earth’s inhabitants and then act upon those imaginings knowing that we won’t be alone—that our brother Jesus is with us loving us into greatness. Amen? Amen!