Skip to content

Go call someone

January 14, 2018

John the Baptist pointing at Christ on The Appearance of Christ Before the People by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov, 1837–1857. Wikipedia. Public Domain.

A reflection for the 2nd Sunday, Ordinary Time, year B. The readings are Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a, 17–20 and John 1:35-42.

Have you heard of the relic of St. Francis Xavier that’s touring Canada? For the whole month of January (2018), it will be traveling to most major Canadian cities. Most of the time relics are a piece of bone or hair. In this case it’s a bit weird ’cause it’s his arm. It’s particularly interesting because St. Francis Xavier is incorrupt – that means that his body has not decomposed, even though he died in 1552. The Church takes incorruption as a sign of holiness. Learn more about the tour at https://cco.ca/relic/.

The reason why I’m bringing him up is that when Francis was in university – he was Spanish, but went to the University of Paris – his roommate was another Spaniard, a guy named Ignatius: St. Ignatius!

Francis was a normal university student. He liked to party. He was not very much into the Church. Apparently he didn’t even like his roommate very much. But eventually, their friendship grew and Ignatius evangelized Francis to the point that Francis Xavier became one of the original companions of St. Ignatius, who founded the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuits. St. Francis Xavier then traveled to India and is credited for bringing the gospel to Japan and many other Asian countries. And of course, we now know him as SAINT Francis Xavier!

We could say that St. Francis would not have heard that “call” from God, had it not been for St. Ignatius.

That’s what I think our readings are about today.

Look at Samuel in the first reading. Samuel was a great prophet. He was the prophet who chose Saul to be the first king of Israel and then he anointed David to be king. But as a boy – or a teenager, we are not sure how old he was – he didn’t know how to listen to God’s voice. He didn’t know how to recognize God’s voice or how to respond. It was Eli, the High Priest, who showed him.

Samuel would not have recognized the voice of God and not known how to respond, had it not been for Eli.

And that’s the same thing that happens in the Gospel today. This is not the usual “Jesus-calls-the-disciples” story. In the other Gospels – Matthew, Mark and Luke – Jesus walks down the shore of the Sea of Galilee and he sees Andrew and Simon and then James and John  and he calls them, “follow me” (see Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20 and Luke 5:1-11).  That’s not what happens in the Gospel of John.

According to John, John the Baptist tells two of his disciples, Andrew and his friend – we don’t know who he is – to follow Jesus: “There is the Lamb of God”. He’s the one. Follow him. And Andrew and his friend go.

Some people say that Jesus takes the initiative because he’s the one who turns to ask, “what are you seeking?” But I think that the initiative was Andrew’s and his friend’s. They are the ones who are following. Then Jesus turns, “why are you following me?” That’s the question, “what are you looking for?” And they respond, “where are you staying?” They are not asking for his address. They are literally asking him, “where do you abide?” That word is the same word that the Gospel of John uses later when Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches; remain in me; abide in me” (John 15:5). Stay in me. Remain in me. Abide…. It’s the same word. Andrew and his friend are asking Jesus, “where does your heart live?” or “where do you find your life?” And Jesus doesn’t tell them; he shows them: Come and see. Come, have faith in me and you will see. You will believe. And they remain with him; they abide with him; all that day.

Then Andrew goes to tell his brother Simon, “we have found the Messiah!”
Andrew and his friend would not have follow Jesus had it not been for John the Baptist and Simon Peter would not have found Jesus had it not been for Andrew.

God calls everyone. But most of the time he calls us through someone else. God call us, not to for ourselves, but for those around us. When was the last time you pointed someone to Christ? When was the last time you showed Christ to someone? When was the last time you made a disciple?

The last thing Jesus told his disciples was a command, “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). That’s why St. Francis Xavier went to Asia – to make disciples. But we think that because we are not a priest, or a deacon, or a nun, we can’t do that. You’re wrong. You can probably do a better job because you are not a priest or a nun. Because you’re normal! (Most priests and nuns are normal, but you are more normal!)

Parents: are you teaching the faith to your kids? Are you teaching them how to pray? Are you praying with them? Are you answering their questions? Are you bringing them to Mass? I say this to all parents when we do baptisms: Sometimes we think that we can’t teach the faith because we don’t know it, or understand it, or we ourselves struggle with it. Well, go figure it out. Just as you would learn the Math so you can help your child with a math problem – learn the faith. That’s how the popular website, CatholicMom.com started: By a mom, concerned that she did not know the Faith enough to teach it to her new son. She began an online forum for moms; that turned into a blog and now it’s an incredible website, catholicmom.com. Parents, you are the first educators of your children.

And not just parents: Uncles, aunts, grandparents, godparents… are you teaching our kids the faith? Are you helping parents teach the kids the faith?

And – all of us: society tells us that faith is private and we shouldn’t talk about it. They’re wrong. Faith is not private. It is personal, but it’s not private; it’s public! That’s why we practice it publicly here every Sunday. Don’t be afraid to share your faith in public. You don’t have to be annoying and preachy about it – just don’t be shy about it.

I have a friend, Tricia – she’s a lay missionary. She’s the founder of an organization (coincidentally) called the St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society. She’s not a nun, not a member of a religious congregation. She’s not consecrated. She’s just a young woman who goes to Asia to do mission work.

She says that once, while traveling she was invited by a friend to a Halloween party, so she went. When they arrived, she realized that every illegal and immoral behaviour was being practiced at this party. She thought, “wow, I don’t think I’ll be staying here very long.” But she stayed for a bit with her friend and started talking to people and thought, “how soon before someone asks me what I do for a living?” She thought, “I’ll just say that I do not-for-profit work in China.” Not two seconds after someone asked, “so, what do you do for a living?” And just about she’s going to say, “I do non-profit work in China,” a friend of her friend says, “aren’t you like a Catholic missionary?” So for the next couple of hours, she says, she talked to all these people who wanted to know about her work; they spoke about faith and about Christ and the Church. A lot of them had grown up Catholic or been to a Catholic school. None were critical and no one attacked her. It was great.

People are hungry and they want to talk about faith; we just have to give them permission. And then, just be yourself and be honest.

When was the last time you made a disciple? Just as Eli pointed the way for Samuel and John the Baptist pointed the way for Andrew and his friend and how Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, when was the last time you brought someone to Jesus? Just as St. Ignatius brought St. Francis Xavier to Christ and just as St. Francis, with that arm that is now touring Canada, must have blessed so many people and baptised thousands; with that arm he must have pointed the way for some many people. That arm continues pointing the way for some many people! When was the last time you pointed the way for someone else?

God calls every one. The correct response is today’s Psalm: “Here am I Lord, I come to do your will.” His will is that you go and make disciples.

Go call someone.

Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.

St. Francis Xavier’s arm on display.

Advertisements

From → English, Reflections

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: