Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
Within each of our hearts, God has planted certain seeds, seeds that are meant to be nourished and fostered so that we can discover what He wants us to do with our lives – to discover our vocation. Each of us has a vocation, something specific that we are invited to do for the spreading of God’s kingdom, to tell others about the person of Jesus. There are particular vocations that we have been set apart for: being a priest, deacon, religious brother or sister, a parent, a teacher, etc. And then there are more general vocations that all of us receive.
Last week, we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The reason the Church gives us that feast is not only to remind us of Jesus’ baptism and of His identity as the Son of God, but it’s also to remind us of our own baptisms, to remind us of who we are. In the rite of baptism itself, we are told that we have died with Christ in the waters of Baptism, become a new creation and put on Christ. Because we have been baptized with Christ, we, too, take on His identity and we become sons and daughters of God the Father. And it’s through that identity that we are given the same responsibilities that Jesus had.
When we are baptized, we are baptized as priest, prophet, and king – that means we are called to be made holy, to point others to the Father, and to lead others by example to an encounter with Christ. In other words, we are called to be disciples. But what we don’t always get right is: what does that discipleship look like?
In the Gospel, we have a very clear example of discipleship in the person of John the Baptist. Throughout his ministry, John the Baptist always pointed others to Jesus. But he was only able to do that because he first had an encounter with Christ. John knew who Jesus was and he shares that with those who have followed him. He says: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It’s him! He’s the One. Follow Him! That’s the same message that John the Baptist is telling us today.
We cannot be disciples of Jesus at a distance. We have to be in relationship with Him; but the only way we can really do that is by getting to know Him, believing who He is, and allowing Him to draw us closer toward Himself in love. Jesus has been present in each of our lives from the very moment that we were thought of. He’s been calling us closer to Him every single day of our lives…even when we can’t see Him or feel Him…especially when we can’t see Him or feel Him. He’s been with us in the struggles, the moments of suffering, the triumphs, the victories, the fears, the anxieties, the joys. He’s been with us through them all. Sometimes we have to take a step back from what we’re experiencing, we have to enter into a moment reflection and prayer, looking back on our lives to see God. Because it’s in that reflecting back on our lives that we’re able to see just how Jesus has been working tirelessly to save us.
When we don’t have the courage to do that, or when we don’t know how to approach that, thankfully, in the saints, the Lord has given us countless examples of individuals who have done that in the past who can be inspiration for us. These are men and women who have shown us how Jesus has worked tirelessly to save them, how He has truly changed the lives of others, and led them to be witnesses to the Gospel.
In our second reading we see one of those examples: St. Paul. His life is full of moments where the Lord was actively stepping into his reality in an effort to save him. In fact, so many places in Scripture recount those experiences. We know his story.
Paul was persecuting Christians because he saw them as a threat to the preservation of the Jewish faith. Then, while on his way to Damascus where he was likely going to arrest other Christians, bring them back to Jerusalem and have them killed, Jesus appeared to him, asking him why he was persecuting not just the Church, but persecuting Jesus Himself. The Lord literally stepped into Paul’s life, He got in his way, caused him to be blinded all in an effort to reach him, to save him, and to bring him to a moment of conversion. Jesus changed Paul’s life. He called Paul to be a disciple; He called him to be holy, to be an evangelist. Jesus made Paul a saint; He transformed his life and made him one of the greatest witnesses to the power of Jesus’ love and forgiveness.
Being disciples of Jesus means that we have to give witness to how He’s changed our lives. Our faith, our experience of Jesus is not something that we are to keep to ourselves. Because we are sons and daughters of God, we have the responsibility of sharing that faith with others. Like John the Baptist, we are called to be prophets, to boldly go out and, pointing to Christ, tell others: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Like Paul, we are to go out and encourage others to call on the name of the Lord Jesus in our striving to live our vocation for holiness. It’s Jesus. He’s the One. He’s the Savior! He’s our redeemer! Believe in Him! Are we courageous enough to go out and share that with the world?
As we continue with the remainder of this Eucharist, let’s reflect on that question. If we are courageous to go out and be the prophets and evangelists that our world so desperately needs, what does that look like for us? Ask the Lord to reveal that. You don’t have to be a priest or a deacon or a religious sister or a catechist to share that message. All of us have received that vocation for discipleship and evangelization. But if we aren’t willing to be a prophet, if we aren’t willing to share the message of how Jesus has changed us, what’s holding us back? Ask Jesus to change whatever it is that is preventing us from sharing His Gospel.
The Lord needs us to share the Good News with our world. Jesus is the one that this generation needs. He is the one who can change our lives and fill us with the courage to go out and share His message of truth, His message of love, His message of forgiveness with others. May we allow Him to lead us in that and help us to truly live as His disciples.