Sermon 62a: 2nd. Sunday of Year (B)
(1 Sam 3:3-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42)
As an infant, Samuel had been dedicated by his mother to service in the Temple of the Lord, the God of Israel, at Shilo under the high priest Eli. How long he had been thus living and working in the Temple we do not know, but he must have still been little more than a boy or very young man when the event we are about to consider took place; and although he had been working for a few years in the Temple, he did not as yet know the Lord P/personally. However, because Samuel was destined to become a great prophet in Israel he had to come to such P/personal knowledge of the Lord, and, as you heard, Eli was able to help him make his initial authentic experience of, and give his very first appropriate and personal response to, the Lord God of Israel.
The prophet Jeremiah (31:33-34) had foretold:
“This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
That all the people would know the Lord was to be the sign of a time yet to come, it would be the outstanding characteristic of the future Kingdom of God and the time of salvation. Therefore, since Samuel was to be a prophet of that coming Kingdom, he himself had to come to know the Lord P/personally, and in that he would be foreshadowing what was to be most sublimely fulfilled in and with Jesus.
The gospel reading told us of two disciples of John the Baptist, of whom we know the name of only one, Andrew. They did not, as yet, know the Lord Jesus, but, being drawn by God towards the Kingdom which Jesus was soon to proclaim and reveal, they felt compelled to seek to know Him better after hearing their master, John, speak of Him so reverentially as being ‘the Lamb of God’:
The two disciples heard (John) speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and said to them, "What do you seek?" They said to Him, "Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?" He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day.
People of God, the reason why Jesus established Mother Church is so that in her, and through her, all who seek Jesus might -- as the prophet Jeremiah had foretold -- learn to know the Lord, each and every one of them, personally. Jesus has endowed Mother Church with the fullness of His Holy Spirit so that she can, beginning at our baptism and continuing throughout our sacramental lives, gradually bestow upon us something more of that same Spirit Who is given to form us in the likeness of Christ, and to enable us -- in that likeness -- to follow Him until He leads us into the presence of the Father of All Glory, where, knowing the holiness and beauty, goodness and truth, of the infinite and All-Holy God to the utmost of our personal being will be our consuming delight for all eternity.
The devils whom Jesus cast out of sufferers during His time on earth frequently cried out claiming to know Him, as St. Mark tells us (1:24; 3:11):
What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are -- the Holy One of God!
Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, "You are the Son of God!"
There we have a clear picture of the Devil, who, on recognizing the Person and holy power of Jesus, could only react with detestation and fear, and whom Jesus would later describe as a liar, the supreme Liar:
You (Jews) are of your father the devil, and you willingly do the desires of your father. … Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
The devil is, by his very nature, first and foremost, a liar: not a murderer, a fornicator, a paedophile or whatever else, no, he is first and foremost, a LIAR and the FATHER OF LIES; and he generates, encourages, and delights in, all forms of sin because he is the Liar. Therefore, when we find the devil promoting lying imitations of Christian virtues or attitudes -- showing himself for what he really is -- we can be sure that he is at his most dangerous and deadly. For example, he loves to imitate Christian charity, and in doing so spawns on the one hand, sexual lust calling it ‘love’, and, on the one hand, that ‘laissez faire’, ‘let things be’ attitude, characteristic of irresponsible parents who so “love” their children that they can never teach, correct, or discipline them. The devil also delights to imitate the Christian virtue of knowing the Lord and he does this by encouraging many Catholics to be quite content with knowing about the Lord but not knowing Him P/personally; and accordingly, they are by no means solicitous about doing His will: they hear the gospels but never take them to heart; they attend Mass, at the Lord’s command, but are always looking forward to the time to leave Church; in fact, they know the Lord’s love for them so well that they like to think that receiving Holy Communion is all that matters. In all these corruptions we find a people never seriously seeking to personally know the Person of the Lord: they are content with their own fullness, with the result that they never experience any need to open themselves up to Him, in longing for Him. If you were to question them they would say that they have already found Him, they are in His Church and they keep His main commandments as far as they reasonably can; than that, they cannot see what else might be needed of them. Being thus deceived by the devil who is the consummate liar, they are content with that stagnant situation, being, apparently, quite unaware of the words of the Lord:
Because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
People of God, how different was the attitude of those two disciples of John the Baptist who heard him say on seeing Jesus pass by:
Behold the Lamb of God!
Those two disciples, already no longer disciples of John but disciples-in-desire of Jesus the Lamb of God, were now ardently, almost painfully, aware of their own emptiness, need, hope and longing. And to those disciples seeking to know Him as Teacher (Rabbi), Jesus simply said: Come and you will see.
They did just that. They followed Jesus to His dwelling not to curiously look round it, to know about Him, but to know Him P/personally, to hear, be near to, to admire and learn from, Him; quite possibly they would also have taken the opportunity to open up their souls to Him, before darkness came requiring them to leave and go back to their own dwelling.
People of God, what does Jesus say to you coming out of the crowd perhaps to receive Him in Holy Communion? His very first words to Andrew and his companion had been:
What are you looking for, what do you seek?
Could you, queuing in Church to receive Him in Holy Communion, answer such a question? Could you tell Him what emptiness might be forcing you to Him; what you might be longing for that He alone could give you?
People of God, we must realize that He, the Lord Himself, is in Mother Church, with her, in order to be contacted, found, there, by us, in a one to one relationship of loving appreciation and obedience, in which we will gradually learn from Him to worship the Father as His true children in Jesus. Mother Church is our atmosphere, she is indeed the only environment in which we can fully prosper, but she is not our end, she is not our goal, she is not our supreme love and longing.
It is quite legitimate, and profoundly true, to take those words of St. Paul which we heard in our second reading today, words spoken directly against all forms of sexual immorality:
You have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body,
in a further perfectly relevant, profitable, and fruitful sense, relating them to our membership of the Body of Christ. You who belong to Mother Church are all members of the Body of Christ, and therefore, the Body of Christ is, in that sense, your body. Do, then, as St. Paul tells us:
Glorify God in your Body.
You members of the Body of Christ, you members of His Church on earth, should never allow yourselves to settle down as an anonymous Catholic; it is not enough just to be in Mother Church, to be merely present at Mass as members of the Body of Christ: you should seek above all to personally know and glorify God there, either in your own hearts filled with His praise and love, or among His people, your brethren, whom you seek to serve and exhort as His disciples, for His glory. Each of you, personally, has been bought at a price, that is your supreme dignity: nobody else, absolutely no one, can thank God, thank Jesus, for you, on your behalf; that is exclusively your own, personal, calling and privilege. And only if you respond to that individual calling, only if you are personally aware and appreciative of that unique privilege, will you come to know what God still wants to make of you, individually; for without that response you are, and will ever remain, imperfect, and what is more, unfulfilled.