2nd Sunday Year B - Homily 5


 Homily 5 - 2018

I find today’s first reading quite evocative, and the Gospel even more so – so I shall touch into both of them, unfortunately briefly.

In the First Reading God’s calls the 10 y.o. Samuel. What we make of that call may depend on what we assume was the tone of God’s voice: Samuel, Samuel. Was it commanding, off-handed, impatient, angry, indifferent, loving – Samuel … Samuel? What do you think? What was your spontaneous reaction? How would you have read it?

If God were to call you, how do you think God would sound? Your answer might tell you how you generally think of God’s attitude to you. Does God love you, whole-heartedly? half-heartedly? sometimes lovingly, sometimes not?

Eli’s advice to young Samuel gives us some insight into how Eli saw God, “Say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’.” What is the relationship between Lord and servant like? Certainly, Jesus assured his disciples, “I do not call you servants, but friends”. Yet, so often our official prayers address God as Lord. A friend of mine said she counted it forty-six times at Mass, and she gave up counting halfway through! Interesting – how do we see Jesus? how do we see God? We probably address God and Jesus, too, as Lord unthinkingly, purely from habit; yet our practice could reveal something truer than we realize about the feel of our relationship to God.

That brings us to the Gospel reading. And in some ways it is vintage St John: words are few, but they are heavy with meaning. Let us focus on the brief dialogue between Jesus and the two disciples of the Baptist.

Jesus asked, What do you want? Let’s look more closely. The word translated as want is more accurately translated as seekWhat are you seeking? While merely wanting can remain somewhat passive, seeking is active and implies some initiative on their part. It supposes more commitment. In John’s Gospel, these are Jesus’ first words – so highly significant. Can you hear them spoken to you? That could be your homework for the week [and be careful of his tone of voice!]

The disciples replied, Where do you live? In fact, the word live may mean something closer to “hang around with” – so their question may in fact be more like, “Who is it with you, in your inner world, when you are alone?” Or, “What is your usual personal inner experience?” Have you ever wondered that about Jesus? or reflected on you own inner experience?

Jesus’ response, Come and see, then, may be more like, “Get to know me better”, “Let me tell you about myself”, or “Let me introduce you to the God I hang around with, and whose loving presence I am continually conscious of”.

Then John commented, They came and saw and stayed. And, though it is not obvious in translation, the word rendered now as stayed is the same Greek word rendered earlier as live [in Where do you live?]– and having that more flexible meaning of “hanging around with”.

The rest of the Gospel will show just how much, through their couple of years of hanging around with him, the disciples indeed would come to know better and better Jesus and the Father of whom he was the human revelation. They came to understand more and more what love really does mean. And if we take the time to ponder the Gospel, we too can come to discover what love really does mean, and how much Jesus’ love and that of his Father are truly without conditions, without even expectations. We can become convinced that Jesus says also to us, I do not call you servants but friends.

The God who called Samuel could have called only with the profoundest love. The God who called those first disciples could have called only with the profoundest love. The God who calls you and me can call only with the same profoundest unconditional love. The rest is up to us.