2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time – 17 January 2021 – Bible Readings for Mass: I: I Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Responsorial: Psalm 40; II: I Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Gospel: John 1:35-42

The new year, 2021 is underway. It has begun as 2020 went, with intense tumult and trial. Especially as we navigate the uncertainty and challenges of the next few weeks we may well be tempted to focus upon the problems, strife and discord. Which reminds me, what we focus upon, what we aim for…we will find.

Life is never promised to be easy or without trials. We can easily recall the ongoing trials and problems of the past year. With perhaps more effort we can also remember the blessings, the realization that Jesus never abandoned us. For even as we may journey in ways we would not choose or plan we are called to learn the power of the promise of Jesus..”I am with you ALWAYS!” And the readings for this 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time speak of the holy adventure, the sacred quest God has called men, women and children upon for millenia.

In the Old Testament reading we see the story of God calling the boy Samuel to serve, to follow God. As we begin this new and holy year we would do well to share from our heart the words of Samuel: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening”. What if we set our priority to listen for the Holy Spirit, in His Word, in Creation, in His people to be of more importance than the endless chatter of the world?

This sacred listening would cause us to realize, perhaps in ways never seen before, that indeed and truth, we are temples of the Holy Spirit (from our second reading). As we would grow in seeing more clearly, realizing more faithfully that the Spirit of Jesus does live within us, and in each other that our lives and relationships would be transformed. As Catholics our sacred, joyful reverence for Christ in the Tabernacle would start to be expressed in perceiving that God also indwells His people, the Church of God. With this truth, this sacred hope, we would grow to experience what Pope Benedict, XVI said: “One who has hope lives differently”. As we see the conflicts and despair so prevalent among so many we would understand the urgency of our call to follow Christ in faith and courage. And to be lives where Jesus could be realized.

Our Gospel reading shares the account of Andrew and others meeting Jesus and then Andrew leading Peter, his brother, to meet and know the Christ. As fishermen on the Sea of Galilee they were intimately aware of the power and danger in the storms of life. And so it is for us in this new year.

We have experienced great storms of fear, ignorance, doubt and hate, on many fronts. It seems no facet of life is left unscathed. Health and medicine, social and racial wounds of great depth and pain, political rancor and violent strife, climate change with intense storms and fires all bring many opportunities to despair, to doubt, to hate. Even in the Church, the people of God there is strife and discord, in the very temple where God, the Holy Spirit longs to dwell in unity. But in the greatest of trials and discord is the need for and opportunity for…CHRIST. A man who experienced trials and hate of deadly intensity would speak to our hearts for God. St. Maximilian Kolbe said: “Hatred is not a creative force. Love alone creates. Suffering will not prevail over us, it will only melt us down and strengthen us.”

This early week of this new year is an excellent opportunity to resolve to realize Christ, dwelling in us..AND EACH OTHER. Great are the wounds and needs in our world, our nation, our community, our families. Greater still is the exquisite. grace that is Jesus. May our actions, our words, our hearts be and become true temples for God where for and through us the mercy and hope of Christ can bring forgiveness and healing. As we seek to both realize Christ in our lives and to help others realize Christ in theirs we will encounter many blessings, challenges and surprises of grace. St. Francis of Assisi would lead us to realize our work with Christ: “We have been called to heal wounds, to unite what has fallen apart and bring home those who have lost their way.” These words bring us back to the refrain from our Psalm of this day: “Here I am Lord; I come to do your will.”

I saw a picture of a small monument of this holy privilege, to be a people of healing and hope in Christ, to share Jesus, realized in the storms of life. Think of all those, young and old, who may be crippled in this life but that are children of God called to be free.