Homily for II (2) Sunday Year B. 17-01-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19
Psalm: Psalm 39 (40): 2, 4, 7-10
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20
Gospel: John 1: 35-42
The Call of Samuel in our first reading which sets the tone for our reflection of today has a characteristic richness from which we can all draw vigour and be enriched to better understand the exigencies of our Divine Christian vocation. God calls Samuel by name, three times to show us that He is a Trinity and He knows us personally and calls every one of us by name. To answer the call of God however requires discernment which can be accomplished through prayer and accompaniment by others. For this it takes the intervention of the priest Eli for Samuel to discern and understand that it was God who came calling. We find this motif taken up again in the gospel reading in the call of the first disciples of John who went to Jesus. As it was with them so it is with us. It always seems like we are the ones who seek after God but the truth is that He has first called us to be His, right from when He made us. Answering His call therefore is the right response and the only way we can be true to ourselves in order to actualise our purpose in life as we see in the disciples of John in the gospel. The question now however is, are we ready to answer His call?
John’s disciples were already in anticipation for the coming of the Messiah even as they were following John. And it is interesting here to see the fulfilment of the words from John’s prologue in John1:10 – ‘He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.’ So even though they saw Jesus passing, they couldn’t recognize Him without the intervention of John who pointed Him out to them as the Lamb of God, and they immediately followed Him. Like John, how often do you help people to recognize and encounter God? Have you recognized the presence of God in your life? Jesus in turn poses to them a fundamental question which He directs to us today as He asks, ‘what do you seek?’ Ask yourself today too, ‘what do I seek in life?’ As short and simple as it seems, this is not an easy question to answer because as human beings we have fleeting needs and wants. This also makes us change our choices and preferences from time to time according to mutating circumstances of time and space. So, what I sought last year or yesterday might not be the same thing I am seeking this year here and now. However, what is constant is that all we seek in life is always in attempt to finding the reason and purpose of life. For us humans, we constantly seek happiness and peace, and this purpose is only found wherein lies our origin, that is, God. We are created in His own image and likeness to know Him, to love Him and serve Him, and be happy with Him forever. So, God is our natural environment (dwelling place), and we were created to live in His presence and be united with Him forever in order to realise the purpose of our being. Therefore, just as a fish taken out of water cannot survive, so too the human person outside of God cannot survive. That is why the disciples came after Jesus and asked, ‘where do you live,’ and He invited them to come and see and they went and saw, and lived with Him. Can you say you are also living in God or have you cut yourself away from Him?
Cutting ourselves away from God in pursuit of the lures of the world comes in various ways in the name of enjoying ourselves, and this makes us cease to live and we begin to merely exist, inevitably leading us to end up in vanity. This was how the Corinthians lived just like many of us do today, the reason for which Paul admonished them as he admonishes us today. The city of Corinth at the time was the equivalent of a sin city where the people engaged in all forms of immorality, especially sexual immorality. These people were like us today who have completely forgotten the fact that we are made in the image and likeness of God, and that our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us all today that our bodies are not for sexual immorality but for the Lord’s glory. Since He dwells in us, we must therefore with respect for our bodies have self-control over our bodies and passions so that we do not abuse Christ who dwells in us. Because if we fail to control our bodies and our passions, these passions will control and ruin us. This requires self-discipline. Can you say you have control over your bodily passions or do your bodily passions have control over you?
This message is so timely also in the face of the ongoing campaign of the Stingy Men Association (SMA) and the Stingy Women Association (SWA) and the likes trending on social media in different countries today. No doubt it is an offshoot of the 1960’s sexual revolution, and it unconsciously reveals a sad truth - the attack on human dignity with the aim of reducing us to objects of sexual gratification. It qualifies the human person as a being interested only in two things; sex and money, one in exchange for the other between men and women, and portrays these as the determinant factors for human relationships where a man can only show love to a woman by giving her money in expectation of sex, and she can only reciprocate her love by offering sex in exchange for money. Such a precedent is pure lust and not love, and it is as dangerous as it is evil, because it misconstrues love and portrays us as no different from animals controlled by instincts. Between man and woman, love makes a gift of oneself to another for his or her good with no strings attached, while lust is taking advantage of another and using the person for personal pleasure. To love is to sacrifice for the other, while to lust is to use and exploit the other. Ask yourself then, do you love people or do you use people?
The truth is man and woman can love and are far more than animals not just because we possess reason, but most importantly because we are created in the image and likeness of a God who is love and He dwells in our bodies. So, we are capable of genuine love and cannot reduce human nature and love to sex. This is a reductionist approach to human anthropology, which attacks human dignity and cheapens our purpose, making us sexual commodities. Such classification is erroneous, a grave injustice and an insult to the human person and to God our Creator who made us for genuine love. Therefore, sexual immorality is not love but a sin against our bodies and against our union with Christ and ultimately against God. As such, we must shun it and treat our bodies with respect and dignity as temples of the Holy Spirit.
How do you treat your body? As a commodity to be commercialized or as God’s holy temple? Are you still chasing the passions of the flesh and the lures of the world instead of following Christ? Then it means you are not truly alive but you are merely existing. To be alive and know the purpose of life, we must go to the source of life which is God. The disciples of John wanting life, went to Jesus, who took them to where He lived and they remained with Him the rest of the day. After that they had a life transforming discovery that satisfied all that they sought in life and they realized that He is not just the Lamb of God and Master, but He is actually the Messiah that has come to save the whole world from sin. It was only after this that they became true apostles of Christ bringing others to Him to share His life and joy. Our life in Christ is pretty much the same as first in our call to follow Christ comes discernment with prayer, then we come to live with Him and get to know Him before we can actively go out to work for Him and bring others to Him. Do you know Christ? Do you seek Him? Without knowing Him, you cannot teach others about Him. And to know Him we must live with Him so that He can dwell in us. Is Christ dwelling in you? Breakaway from immoral living so that He can dwell in you. Let us ask Him to give us the grace to seek Him with a sincere heart and to find Him, so that He can dwell in us and we will come to know Him personally and be able to bring others to Him. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.