Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
For American Catholics, January 22nd is a day of reparation for unborn children whose lives have no legal protection. It is a day of prayer for the restoration of the legal right to life, and of penance for violations to human dignity committed through acts of abortion. The tens of millions of lives lost since the Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion-friendly decisions demonstrate what Pope Francis calls a “throwaway culture.” Let’s change it.
This year, January 22nd falls on a Friday. The days of penance for the Church include each Friday of the whole year, and abstinence from meat is to be observed on all Fridays, unless an individual chooses to substitute another suitable penance. Therefore, let’s make this year’s Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children especially fruitful by offering up our usual Friday penance for the protection of pre-natal children, whose innocence and vulnerability should compel us to act on their behalf.
In Christ Our Light,
Also, please find below Dcn. Gary’s homily from this past Sunday. It was really good!
In today’s Gospel from John we witness a great transitional moment from the ministry of John the Baptist to the ministry of Jesus. Up to now, John has been the star of the show. He is surrounded by great numbers of followers. He is lionized by the press. People travel great distances on foot to hear him and be baptized. And yet the Baptist is about to throw all that adulation overboard. Standing before him is the 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. John the Baptist wasn’t interested in his own glory; his job was finished, and it was time for him to get off the scene. He knew his mission and that was to be a forerunner for the Messiah when he made himself known. When the moment came, there was no hesitation or second thoughts. John commends Jesus as the Lamb of God and then encourages his disciples to follow Jesus while he steps into the background. With such an example of humility perhaps we can better understand why Jesus says of John, “of those born of women, there is not a greater than John the Baptist.”
Have you ever noticed, when you’re out shopping and you go to a register to pay for your purchases, how the clerk often asks you the question, “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
The older I get, the more often that question reminds me, that indeed I’ve forgotten exactly what it was that I came into the store to buy in the first place! On my way to find whatever it was I went shopping for, I get distracted by other things: other items catch my attention and turn my head, so much so that I blank out on the item I originally wanted to get.
What brings all this to mind is something Jesus said in the Gospel we just heard. In fact, we just heard the very first words Jesus speaks in John’s gospel: “What are you looking for?”
After John the Baptist stands with two of his disciples and points to Jesus saying, “Look, there is the Lamb of God,” these two disciples immediately went to follow Jesus. One was Andrew. The other is not identified but many scholars assume it was John the Evangelist and the author of today’s Gospel. Modesty forbade him mentioning his own name.
They were Seekers who thought they might have found the Messiah. When Jesus noticed them following Him, He turned around and asked them, “What are you looking for?”
They answered with another question, “Teacher, where do you stay?”
The word they use here for “stay” is very significant. It is the Greek word “meno” it means abide, dwell, remain. This is a central theme of John’s Gospel. Later, in chapter 15, for example, Jesus tells his disciples, “if you remain in me, and I in you, then you will bear much fruit.”
Jesus responds, “Come and See.” And they go hang out with him for a day, and they are transformed. Don’t we also get excited when someone says to us: “Come and See?” It may be our spouse talking about something on television or an appliance in the house that has gone haywire. It might be a friend wanting to show you their new car or new whatever or pictures of their grandchild. Or maybe it’s one of the children or grandchildren wanting to show you their newest creation or discovery.
It could be any of those things, but we know the invitation and the excitement of that invitation. That excitement was in the invitation of Jesus to Andrew and John. Jesus said: “Come and See.” They went and their lives were changed completely. Victor Hugo, in Les Miserables wrote, “To love another is to see the face of God.” Hugo was speaking figuratively. But Andrew and John 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.
We know that Andrew and John had already left behind some semblance of ordinary life and had been following the radical John the Baptist. They must have had some motivation, some yearning, for a different life. They joined others who were searching for a Messiah. John Clifford (a Presbyterian minister from Texas) offers this:
“Maybe they were looking for an adventure, for new experiences, to see the world beyond the sleepy little village where they had spent all their lives. Maybe they were looking to make a difference, to be a part of a movement to resist the Roman occupation and the corrupt leadership of Judea. Maybe they were looking for meaning and purpose in their otherwise aimless lives. Perhaps they were looking to ‘find themselves,’ so they joined the cult of John the Baptist with visions of utopia dancing in their heads. While Scripture does not reveal what they were looking for, is it possible they were looking for some of the same things twenty-first-century churchgoers seek?”
His point is that the idea of searching is not foreign to us as people, and perhaps what Andrew and John were searching for was just as diverse as what we look for today. Clifford continues: “People long for identity, for purpose, for meaning, for healing. They are looking for redemption, for love, for life. The world is ready and willing to offer solutions to the search.”
But even with a plethora of answers from the world, we find ourselves here in church. Perhaps that’s because we hope that the answers offered here will speak to something bigger. Theologians have argued that at the core of our identity as humans is a desire to find ourselves. Paul Tillich said that our “ultimate concern” always points beyond ourselves, identifying God as the “ground of being.” Our searching, it seems, often finds its home with the Divine. Last week we explored the story of Jesus’ baptism, and uncovered that our central identity is that of children of God. This week’s text prompts us to consider that, as children of God, our core purpose is to seek out a relationship with that God.
We are seekers. This happens when we sit at the feet of teachers, whether it is a wild man in the wilderness like John the Baptist or Jesus himself. We seek when we open the Bible, especially when we do so with others, and when we come to worship. Even if we can’t quite put a finger on what exactly we want to find, seeking makes us open to whatever experiences God would put before us, and encourages us to stick around long enough to see what God is doing.
Jesus is asking each of us here today the same question that He asked Andrew and John, “What are you looking for?”
And some of us are just looking for the Lord, looking for Jesus. Like those two early disciples, we have the same questions: “Lord, where are you staying? Where are you, Lord? Where can we find you? Sometimes it seems like you hide from us, Jesus. And sometimes it seems we know just where you are but then -poof – you seem to disappear! So, where are you? Where do you stay? Where can we find you?”
And the Lord’s answer? “Come, and you will see. Come, and you will see… Come, follow me… walk with me… take my path, walk in my footsteps…It won’t always be an easy path, but I’ve already walked it ahead of you and I’ll walk every step of it with you, right by your side.”