Sunday Sermon for January 18, 2015, the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, year B
Readings: 1Sam 3:3b-10, 19; 1Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42
In the Gospel reading today St. John the Baptist points out our Lord to John and Andrew. These two disciples come to our Lord and ask him where He is staying. The Greek word that is used in this passage can be translated as stay, remain or abide. It is my humble (or, perhaps, arrogant) opinion that they got this one wrong. As I often point out to people, if you had an opportunity to ask Jesus one question, would you ask him what house He is living in?
The same word is used three times in a couple of sentences, each translated as staying or stayed. I suggest that we use the word remain instead. While the translation is not a bad one, using remain or abide would change the meaning radically. It would also make greater sense of the passage as well as others within St. John’s Gospel.
If we look just at the readings the Church has given us to accompany today’s Gospel, we are told in the second reading that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within. In the first reading, the boy Samuel hears God calling him. While he awakens and runs to Eli, the priest, a few times, I think it would be proper to suggest that Samuel is not hearing God’s voice in his ears, but in his heart. Because Samuel was not accustomed to hearing the Lord, it is not at all surprising that he thought the voice that had awakened him was coming from the outside. Only after Eli understood what was happening did Samuel respond to the Lord and listen with his heart instead of listening with his ears.
We see in both of these cases that there is something interior and spiritual that is occurring. Recall when our Lord told His Apostles that it was better for them if He left and went back to Heaven. Not only would this result in the sending of the Holy Spirit, but it meant that the Lord could be within his Apostles, not just with them in the sense of one who is among a group of people.
For the sake of trying to clarify my point, we can use our own selves as an example. We can go into a church building or into an adoration chapel and we can be in the presence of the Lord. It is a truly wonderful thing to be with Him, to pray and to love Him in the Blessed Sacrament. However, if we receive Him in Holy Communion, He is now within us. We no longer have to look or project our thoughts outside of ourselves, but we simply have to look inside and enter into union with our Lord in our hearts. There is no doubt about the love that is present when we are with the Lord in the chapel, but there is no comparison with the intimacy and the unity that takes place when He can find His repose in us and we can find our repose in Him.
Of course, we realize that the union with our Lord in Holy Communion expresses the union that is already present. In baptism we entered into the person of Jesus and the Holy Trinity entered into us in order to make His dwelling within us. As long was we are in the State of Grace, God dwells within us. Another way of saying this is that He remains with us. It is true that He remains in our presence in the Blessed Sacrament as He promised to remain with us until the end of the world. But to remain within us is a gift that is even greater than having Him present among us.
Ponder deeply the love God has for you in that He chooses to enter into you and remain with you. Now we have to consider the love we have for God. Are we willing to enter into Him and remain with Him? We like the idea of being loved so much by the Lord, but we are really afraid to allow Him to love us so much. We are also very much afraid of loving Him. Perhaps we feel unworthy or we think we cannot love Him properly. But I think the real reason is that love changes us to become like the beloved. In this case, that means becoming more and more like God.
When the disciples asked Jesus where He remains He invited them to come and see. Like Samuel, the disciples recognized a calling from within. He is inviting you now to come to Him within your own self. He has chosen to remain with you. Enter into your heart, find Jesus there and remain with Him the whole day.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.