Fr. Brent’s Homily 01-17-2021

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

St. Anselm Church – Sudbury, MA
Readings:  1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42


            Last week we commemorated Jesus’ baptism, the turning point in his life, after which he began his public ministry.  The scriptures showed us that his ministry was all about extending God’s universal welcome, an invitation to the heavenly banquet, where all people are fed in body and soul.

We reflected on how at St. Anselm’s we want to accept Christ’s welcome to us, and in turn help him extend it to others by our ministry here. This in essence is what our journey as disciples of the Lord is all about!

            This Sunday our Gospel goes deeper by telling us about how a few of Jesus’ first disciples met him and why they followed him. There’s room in this story to imagine yourself there — which I encourage you to do, as you listen to it. How would you meet Jesus?  What would you want to ask him? Would you follow or hold back?  Let’s ask right now that God use our imaginations as we hear the scriptures today to touch our hearts and hear his call to us.

Penitential Act:

Lord Jesus, you were sent to heal the contrite of heart.  Lord have mercy.

Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus, You came to call sinners. Christ have mercy.

Christ have mercy.

Lord Jesus, you are seated at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us. Lord have mercy.

Lord have mercy.


            Glory to God in the Highest…

Homily:   Discovering Jesus’ Love & Becoming his Friend (Disciple)

Did you miss the comedy in this gospel scene? 

Did it strike you as pious and sober?  It is pious of course…. 

John’s disciples probably had the hearts of sincere seekers,

trying to live their lives according to God’s light.

That’s what drew them to John’s message of repentance,

and the turning from sin that his baptism signified. 

But you know, sometimes we do NOT know what we are looking for(!), though we do have a deep inkling in our heart that there’s ‘something more’ that we need. 

This ‘not knowing,’ is why the scene turns comedic. 

Recall… John is with his disciples, perhaps taking a rest from baptizing the crowds flocking to the river. 

Quietly they sit with him; perhaps they’re chatting or enjoying a little silence. 

Then a little way off a man comes walking by –

John recognizes that it’s Jesus, points and says to his disciples, “behold the Lamb of God”. 

The Lamb. The one who gives his life for all. 

True seekers that they were, those disciples got up and hurried after Jesus as he was going on the road. 

As they approached, he must have heard them coming;

he turned to them….

Caught by surprise — perhaps expecting that that they would have initiate the conversation if there was to be any — Jesus instead addresses them:

“What are you looking for?” 

He asked them the very question for which they DIDN’T have a clear answer!

What are YOU looking for?  Do you know? 

John’s disciples respond a little cluelessly and comedically.  You can imagine…

many umms, ahhs, and puzzled glances at one another!

Then one says, “Umm, where are you staying?” 

He asks a generic factual question, the kind of thing we all ask when we’re meeting a new person:

Where are you from?  Where do you live?  Do we know anyone in common? 

Jesus does NOT reply with a factual answer such as “I live in Nazareth; have you ever been there?” or “I have the carpentry shop close to the market square”.  

No, Jesus answers with a invitation and a welcome

“Come and see!” 

Right away!? He doesn’t even size them up or wait to gauge if they are interested; he right away invites them to where he was staying, to be his guest. 

And, surprisingly, they go, and, we are told “they spent that day with him”.  Imagine what they talked about…

What did they ask Jesus? 

What was he like with them? 

Did they laugh and find joy in their time together? 

What things did they have in common that may have put them at ease?  What dreams or hopes do you suppose they shared, which helped started their friendship?

As you imagine that scene, can you see yourself there? 

What do you suppose Jesus is like if he could, in one afternoon,

go from being a complete stranger to a friend?

…From someone you don’t even know, to someone you care about and who cares about you?

Maybe you have had this sort of thing happen in your life.  

  • Perhaps you’ve met someone on a plane who you talked with for the whole flight and then kept in touch with!
  • Maybe the nurse who took care of you in the hospital became friends forever. 
  • Maybe you met your spouse after an awkward introduction, but quickly found that hours could pass in the flash of an eye in each other’s delightful company.

Remember the invitation and the welcome from such experiences. 

That had to come first: You welcomed each other.  In time, you got to know each other, friendship developed, LOVE blossomed. 

John’s disciples who followed Jesus did not know what they were looking for, only that there was something more they needed. 

They accepted Jesus’ invitation to “come and see” and he welcomed them into his home. 

After that day spent together, we see how one of them, Andrew, went excitedly to tell his brother Peter “We have found the Messiah!” and he brought him to Jesus. 

A mentor in college used to say, “The greatest gift a person can give to another is to share their friends.”  So Andrew shares his new friend, Jesus, with his brother Peter.  Friendship grew, love grew.

By now you may have caught on to how this pattern — of the pathway to discipleship with Jesus — is reflected in the slogan our community recently adopted:

On a Journey with Christ to Welcome, Love and Serve. 

We first receive Christ’s Welcome to us — ‘come and see!” — and in accepting it, we get to know him, to know his friends, to become his friend, and to really love him and his friends. 

We sometimes think of the disciples mostly as Jesus’ helpers, serving in his ministry. But they didn’t go straight to service.  They first were welcomed by him and developed a deep and loving friendship.  What better foundation for serving than Love?

We have to get to know each other better, to develop deeper bonds of friendship in this community — for then love will blossom here at St. Anselm’s even more than it already has. 

Christ gathers us and invites us.  Will we “come and see”?

Will we choose to “spend the day” with him,

and bring more people into the circle of love

One opportunity is to join a small group during Lent (which starts in one month). The groups of 6-10 people will meet to get to know one another, to pray and reflect together on the scriptures, and deepen the loving bonds of our discipleship with the Lord.  The link to register will be found in this Wednesday’s email, next Sunday’s bulletin and volunteers will take your sign-ups at the end of mass next Sunday and the Sunday after. 

Another opportunity to deepen our knowledge of one another and of God is a book group starting on January 28th for just three meetings. We will be reading and discussing the Pope’s latest book, Let us Dream!  I imagine that Jesus asked the disciples who “came and saw” that day, to talk about their dreams and hopes.  The Pope invites us into that space in his book.  And we surely need it after this very tough year!  Please sign up with the registration link in this week’s bulletin or by calling or emailing the rectory this week. 

You’ve just heard me welcome and invite you to these two small group opportunities as ways to deeper love of Jesus and love of our neighbors here.  But it’s sometimes easy to miss God’s call, invitation, welcome. It’s easy to miss when Christ is welcoming us to get to know him, to ‘come and see’ his home.

In the first reading, the young Samuel hears a voice calling his name.  Multiple times!  But he thinks it’s his mentor and teacher, the temple priest, Eli.  Eventually Eli has the wisdom to realize it’s God who is speaking to Samuel directly.  He has to teach Samuel how to recognize God’s voice and respond confidently: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening!”

I think of my eight grade English teacher, Mr. King, who, when he saw us getting distracted he would say:   “I can tell, you’re hearing the sound of my voice, but you’re not listening to my words!” 

When we’re not tuned in to God’s voice, we may hear the sound but not really listen to the words or take them to be God who wants to talk to us.

When we’re not tuned in, like water, God’s word rolls off our back. It has no consequence or impact or nourishment for us.

But as Samuel learned to respond to God’s invitation to a conversation, so must we.  May God’s voice NOT roll off our backs like water, but rather fill our cup to overflowing to give us nourishment. 

That is how I hope you hear the invitation, the welcome, to join a group, to deepen your relationship with God and your neighbors here. 

I know it’s a pandemic, but we are going to have most of these groups meeting online, so you need not worry.

Let’s break down the walls of isolation or depression that entrap us, share our friendships (one of the greatest gifts we can give!) and take our place at a table of love that Christ sets for us! 

Let’s “come and see” and “spend the day with him”!