In yesterday’s blog I made an international appeal for pro-life canvassing here in Ireland. If you are interested, please look it up.
This is today’s homily followed by the gospel of the day.
It is very important to appreciate what has brought us together here in this church today. We are not here as members of a political party or because we want to promote Gaelic games or Irish traditional music. We are here because we are Catholic Christians who gather on the Lord’s Day to repeat the Last Supper in memory of Jesus. This is the interest that we all share in common.
Another way of expressing that we are Christians is to say that we are followers or disciples of Jesus. In today’s gospel we heard about the call of Jesus’ first disciples. This invitation first offered by Jesus is the same invitation that we have all accepted: COME AND SEE. Come to me, get to know me and thus grow in friendship. If you like this experience, then remain with me and become one of my flock, the community of believers. It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful, disarming invitation from God.
So what should be our response if we want to come to Jesus and remain as his follower and disciple? The answer is provided in today’s first reading and Gospel Acclamation: SPEAK LORD YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING. The word ‘disciple’ comes from the word ‘discipline’. To be a follower of Jesus is to live our lives according to the truth that he reveals. We follow Jesus’ instructions for right living like we might follow the instructions of a doctor helping with our diabetes: lose weight, cut out junk food and drinking, get more exercise, take these pills, etc. The benefit of right living as presented by Jesus is far more that our physical well-being. As the Gospel Acclamation said: YOU HAVE THE MESSAGE OF ETERNAL LIFE(!)
One way that Jesus’ word comes to us is through our pastors, and particularly the pope. Pope Francis has designated today as ‘Refugee Sunday.’ We instinctively recall the heart-rendering images of refugees sailing across the Mediterranean Sea in flimsy boats and all the drowning that happen as a result. You may like to read his five page letter on the notice board. However his essential message is summed up in this one sentence: “Every stranger that knocks on our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age.’
How would we all feel and react if 50 Syrian refugees were to be located here to Ardaghey?
A very direct way that God speaks his word to us is through the Bible. In today’s second reading St Paul says: ‘The body is not meant for fornication… Your body as you know is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.’ Fornication is the wrong use of our sexuality. This is a reminder of the Sixth Commandment that limits – strictly limits – the use of our sexuality to a valid marriage between husband and wife and that is open to new life.
This is an enormous challenge for many in today’s permissive and secular culture. It requires much self-discipline and the capacity to say no to our desires. This is not enough however. We need the grace that comes through reception of the sacraments, personal prayer and the support of other committed Christians who journey in faith with us.
In summary: Jesus invites all prospective followers to COME AND SEE. Our response to this invitation is SPEAK LORD, YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING.
Gospel Acclamation 1 Sam 3:9
Speak, Lord, your servant is listening:
you have the message of eternal life.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to John 1:35-42
They saw where he lived, and stayed with him.
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 Lord.