January 17, 2021 at Mary, Mother of Light Catholic Church in Tequesta, FL
In the Maronite Rite it is the Second Sunday after Epiphany and the Gospel text is the same as in the Roman Rite.
1 Samuel 3, 3-20 + Psalm40+ 1 Corinthians 6. 13-15 + John 1, 35-42
Thirty-five verses of John’s Gospel have passed, and then Jesus speaks. He asks a question. It is a question he asks every one of us in this church. “What are you looking for?” It is the question he will ask of those who come to arrest him, and he asks it of Mary Magdalen on the morning of his resurrection. No matter where we are or what we do, and whether we think about it or not, we are always answering that question. Because, everything we do responds to the question and reveals our answer. What we are looking for is the reason we get out of bed in the morning. What we do with our evenings and how spend our weekends says something about what we are looking for. What we read, what we dream about, and what we most want in our lives answers the question, and sometimes it’s not worthy of us.
What it all boils down to if we really stop to look at all of those things, is that we are looking for love. Sometimes we say it. “I would love to take a nap.” “I would have a long vacation.” “I would love to have that car.” “I would love to look like that.” When we say those things, we know they are silly and shallow, but at the same time, they tell us something about ourselves and our basic need which really has nothing to do with a nap, a vacation, a car, or a look. What we need is love and a relationship that we can depend on, a relationship that is lasting, a relationship in which we can really just be ourselves. What we are in love with affects everything from imagination to our motivation, and all our decisions.
That’s what happened to those disciples who had been hanging around John the Baptist. They fell in love, and as we might say, it was love at first sight. That’s what happened to Samuel when he realized who was calling him. It wasn’t any hero or awesome role model. It was the one who made him. We could call it a vocation, a calling, and the real vocation which we all have in life has nothing to do with the priesthood which we are conditioned to think of first. The first and real vocation we all have is call to be in love, a call to enter into a relationship just like those apostles whose love-story we tell today.
In that moment, struck by the opportunity to make sense of their lives and give purpose to their being, they asked a question. They were not asking for an address or a home town. They were asking him where he will remain. For the word John uses in this question is better translated as where will you remain. Again, it is a word that will come up again when Jesus says: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them.” In another place he says: “Unless you remain in me you will not bear fruit.”
In answer to their question, he simply invites them to “Come and See.” They do, and where he takes them is not where they may have first thought of. He takes them to leper outcasts. He takes them to the poor, to the homes of sinners. He takes them to Samaria and well where he meets a woman and a whole village of enemies who end up asking him to remain with them. Ultimately, he takes them to an upper room, then to a garden for prayer, and on to hill and a cross where he shows them the truth about love.
So, the question has been asked again today in this place. “What are you looking for?” The only answer that saves, the only answers that give us any hope at all is to finally recognize that we are looking for love, and this is the place to find it. Our most basic vocation is to fall in love, to fall in love with God. I have believed, and it comes from my experience that this is what happens in marriage. Two people fall in love, and that love they share begins to reveal and lead to being in love with God. Cultivating the decision to love can fill up our lives. The Jesus who asks us that question also invites us to come and see, because seeing leads to believing. “Many began to believe in him when they saw the signs he was doing”, says John. In another place he says: “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life.”
My friends, what we have here are four things we ought to cultivate beginning today: seeking, coming, seeing, believing. When we do, we will have come a long way toward really being children of God.