Second Sunday Ordinary Time 2012 Mass and Reflections

Scripture readings for Sunday's  Mass are here and various reflections here 
from Centre for Liturgy at St Louis University USA.

The hymn below is based on today's Responsorial Psalm 40:

"Here I am Lord.  I come to do your will" and also on the first reading from the Old Testament where God calls young Samuel four times from his sleep. 

On the first three occasions, Samuel's response is "Here I am" but it is only after getting advice from Eli on how to correctly answer God, that Samuel finally gets it right and says "Speak, for your servant is listening.",

and it is from that moment on "Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect."

Here I am Lord.....

John 1: 35-42

                                                                 James Tissot Baptism of Jesus

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
"Behold, the Lamb of God."

The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,

"What are you looking for?"

They said to him, "Rabbi" - which translated means Teacher -,
"where are you staying?"

He said to them, "Come, and you will see."

Image below from here 
Jesus' First Disciples - Andrew brings Simon Peter to meet Jesus
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.

It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.

He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
"We have found the Messiah" - which is translated Christ -.

Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,

"You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas" - which is translated Peter.


Thus, when you wake up in the morning, called by God to be a self again, if you want to know who you are, watch your feet. 

Because where your feet take you, that is who you are.” 

After Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist, He quoted this passage as a mandate for his ministry :

"The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion—

to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit."

 I don't know what the experience of Eli must have been like nor that of Andrew and Simon Peter but I do know I and millions of people through the ages have been prompted at some point in their life, to hear and follow a call from God and Jesus Christ.

I have never heard God "speak to me", but I have felt God's presence in being with people who are bereaved, in listening and being with friends and family and loved ones. The natural world is a constant source of awesome evidence of God's presence to me. As a scientist, I respect scientific process and scientific knowledge itself only deepens my appreciation and sense of God.

But how can I convince anyone that is true ? !

Even when I do manage to discipline myself to sit still, I am listening for God rather than listening to God..there is a subtle difference. 
 The ways of prayer and the countless books on the hows of prayer and the why's are all useful but somehow even they can lose their appeal after a while.
Sometimes I just fall asleep but the tale of Samuel gives me hope that even that is not a hopeless case for God to work on me.

Cartoon above from here

I have been on group retreats. I have been with a one to one spiritual director over lengthy periods during various times in my life and these have all helped me to learn that the most important part is to just sit still and be silent.

Reading books, blogs, even watching films and listening to music are all pathways to God too but none of them can match the silent time alone.

After communion is a good time too. But how can I convince anyone that all these experiences give me God's presence ? 

Well, of course, the bottom line is I can't !!  It's a mystery beyond explanation, but for some reason I want to keep trying.

 Even when things look dark and bleak I know I can take heart that at any moment in a time bound world, the fully present God can always as Brother David Steindl- Rast says, " shatter time and burst into Now."

One of my favourite quotes from Frederick Buechner is “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

The deepest hunger of my life and countless others is a constant yearning to know God’s Presence. 
 I know too that I am spiritually starved unless I can eat the Bread of Life at the altar of the Eucharist.
As I  reflect on the scriptures as a new cycle of the liturgical calendar begins and as a New year unfolds I have the immense privilege of living in a time when I know the rest of the story; unlike Eli and the disciples in today's gospel I know that Christ will go on to be crucified and as I believe in the resurrection so I believe the Holy Spirit is still working in us today. 

Christ's mandate is for anyone and all of us who believe in Him to continue His mission.
We are His hands and feet in the world. 
I can only pray that I and the Catholic church I belong to will work hard to remove any stumbling blocks and barriers to belonging that are still there for so many on the margins of  the institutional church; that I will also learn to accept that God is bigger than any church and any institution.

I pray for a more authentic communication and dialogue in my church; listening to all and acting for justice for the voiceless and marginalised.

I pray that I and my church will not act to prevent the freedom of movement of anyone who wants to respond to the question Jesus asked : "What are you looking for ? to find their way to where He lives. God does not live solely in the Vatican or the church as some people would have us believe. When God said "Come and see where I live", I get the feeling he was talking more about a place of residence inside people's hearts rather than a place with a roof on.

Supposedly, however, the institutional church is one place where Jesus can and should be found but sometimes I wonder if some of the clerical guides we have are in fact acting more as petty gatekeepers rather than ushers.

I pray that I and my church will learn new ways of enabling people to be attracted to leave what they are doing in their lives even for one day, to come and spend time with God, to stay with and experience what it is like to be with a God who loves us.

I pray that I and others will learn to be animated by the Holy Spirit in my dealings with others.

 I pray that I and my church will learn new and imaginative ways to reach out to people to learn that God is always with them and that they will grow through that experience , and that they will come to know the reality of the truth that "God will not permit any word of His to be without effect on their lives."

God's Love, as Mary said in her Magnificat, levels inequalities so that “every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low”, so that the hungry are filled with good things.  

Lamb of God :  Agnus Dei  : Karl Jenkins
from The Armed Man : A Mass for Peace

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