We are back in the ordinary time of the year, but beware! It may not be as ordinary as you may think, and neither does it mean slackness. Perhaps, you need to be more alert because out of the ordinary may hatch something extraordinary, marking the rest of your life. Let’s find out then what this Sunday of ordinary time has for us.
Bible readings 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19 Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-10 1 Corinthians 6: 13-15, 17-20 John 1: 35-42
What’s in this ordinary Sunday?
The readings for this Sunday are marked by the turning points in the lives of certain persons, thanks to their guides: Samuel, by an old priest, Eli, learns to recognise the voice of God; two disciples, by their master, John the Baptist, encounter the messiah; and Peter meets Jesus, thanks to his brother, Andrew. From these experiences, we can rest assured, new life can begin no matter our age or the situation we are in now.
What are you looking for?
In these readings we can find a mine of perspectives to nourish our faith, however, I choose to focus our reflection on the question that Jesus poses to the two men who begin following him: “What are you looking for?”
Possibly, you find your life today like that of the young Samuel, going and coming, responding to something you don’t quite understand. Or you may be like Andrew and the other disciple who just put themselves on the road, following a man just at his first appearance.
I realise, in this question of Jesus, what’s put in the first place is not so much the response I give but why I give it. Hence, it’s like I’m invited to clarify for myself; what’s the importance of my choice? What does it mean to me? Answering the question, and though it will probably not bring about a dramatic change for other people to marvel at, yet, it will surely give depth to your life that won’t just go unnoticed. You will come to do a thing no longer because everyone else is doing it but because you have found good reasons for that –it nourishes your existence and that of others; you mature in humanity and in faith. That’s why this question of Jesus sends us
back to the responses we have made in life
Yes, we have already given a lot of responses in life: the partner we have chosen for life together, the job we do, the friends we have, they type of life we lead –these are but just a few examples of the thousands of choices we have made as a response to various voices we have heard and continue to hear. It’s for that we wake up early every morning, eat hurriedly and go late to bed –we are always responding to some call, though not always clear. And that’s how our life has become a “rush hour”. In the midst of all that Jesus says to you: hey, stop a minute –but why? What are you looking for?
Can be comforting and disrupting
To this question, some responses may be comforting, especially when we become aware that we are in a relationship, in a job, and in a company of friends that are helping us to be better persons, more human, and fulfilled. But it can be upsetting too; upsetting not just in the sense of something negative but the fact of rethinking what we do habitually can bring in a new order in our life.
We may have established our life in a certain way, convinced of our ideas as the only way for us. Consequently, we may have abandoned ourselves to a sterile routine of thinking and acting that contributes nothing to our growth as humans and as Christians. That’s why this question, I find, challenges us to reassess our life. Thereafter we may see the need also to revisit the relationships we cherish and revise the things we presently esteem to be important in our lives. Oh yes, we risk bringing down what we have erected.
Isn’t that daunting?
Certainly yes! But you are not abandoned to face the question alone. We have the Elis, the Johns, and the Andrews around us. We may be young and inexperienced like Samuel or we may be adults like the two disciples of John the Baptist; indeed, whatever our situation, we can find help for a new beginning. It may come in varied ways.
It can be a word from scriptures, a piece of advice from a friend, or an event; all these are occasions for dismantling something old and assembling something new in us. Indeed, it takes at times a winding and somber course to introduce us into a space of abundant sunshine. Yes, that can happen even in ordinary life, on the condition that we remain attentive to listen and to discern. So, just dare and
You will not be disappointed
The two disciples take up the challenge of the question that Jesus poses to them: “What are you looking for” and they respond by another question: “Master, where do you live”. Far from making any propaganda, Jesus proposes something to them; something they can choose to take or leave in total liberty: “Come, and you will see.” The two go to see and, evidently, they are not disappointed. We can see from the excitement of Andrew who goes straight to find his brother, Simon, and announce to him: “We have found the messiah!”? And when Andrew guides his brother to meet Jesus something new begins to happen.
A fisherman, apparently of no repute, becomes Peter –meaning rock. Despite the moments of fragility in his life as a disciple and yet he will remain “rock” enough to be delegated as a chief shepherd. What can that inspire us? Perhaps to make a choice in our lives
between cynicism and daring
If we can talk in terms of business enterprises, religion is one of those types of business that’s hitting low, seriously low especially in some parts of the world. Many are the people who don’t want to risk their capital: energy, time, and thought into it. At face value, they shake it off. But to whoever is searching, doubting and hesitating to make a new step in life, I can hear the echo of Jesus’ gentle offer: “Come, and you will see.” Give it a try, open yourself to the experience.
So, what can you do in ordinary time?
Well, aren’t you among those who delight, today, in the relationship with Jesus? If you look back, you will probably identify the Elis, the Johns, and the Andrews that guided you and made possible such an experience. And today, it’s your turn: be Eli to another Samuel, those who are responding but without understanding. Then, you realise, in fact, ordinary time is not about laxity –it’s a moment of grace. We can help others drink from the wells of salvation just like we ourselves have been helped. So then, this ordinary time, we are sent on the mission.
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