Sunday, January 17, 2021


(I Samuel 3: 3-10.19; I Corinthians 6: 13-15.17-20; John 1:35-42)

The spiritual journey is said to begin with the question, "What are you looking for in life?" It should come as no surprise that everyone responds in the same way. Everyone seeks happiness. But what does happiness consist of? This seems to be the purpose of Jesus' question in the gospel today.

Jesus asks John's disciples: "'What are you looking for?'" Different people want different things. In the second reading, Saint Paul reproaches the Corinthians for seeking physical pleasure. He says that the fornicator desecrates his own body because he unifies with a foreigner what has been dedicated to the Lord. It would be akin to turning a temple into a discotheque. Others desire power or prestige or money in their pursuit of happiness. The problem is that even if one indulges in these pursuits, happiness in time will vanish like snow on a warm day.

Andrew and his companion have another objective in mind as they search for happiness. They want a close relationship with God. Therefore, they answer Jesus' question by saying that they want to see where he lives. John has told them that Jesus is the "'Lamb of God'". Where he is then, his Shepherd will be. In the first reading the boy Samuel hears the voice of God emitted from the Ark. To this Samuel responds: “’Speak, Lord; your servant listens to you.'" The word "listen" indicates obedience. For to obey is derived from the Latin words ob and audire meaning to hear. The disciples try to serve the Lord by heeding his words.

Once a religious sister described the call of God that she had as a young woman. She said that she had struggled a lot with the idea of ​​a religious vocation. She wondered if she had not been like Mary when the angel told her that she was going to be the mother of God. As Mary responded, "’How can it be?,’" the sister could not believe that God was calling her to religious life. However, she eventually surrendered, in her words, "to the goodness and love of God."

The call to religious life, the priesthood, and the diaconate is not found every day. It demands a particular courage because the one who has been called has to go against the drift. Most people have families of their own that give them enormous meaning. In contrast, the religious and the priest have the community of faith.  This brings them both respect and indifference. Yes, people love nuns and priests. But in almost all cases the affection does not last long due to changes of assignments.

The Lord's call extends to the laity as well. Like the religious, the laity must pray regularly and serve the Lord. The Second Vatican Council insisted on the layperson's call to holiness. We all know examples of committed lay persons. An obituary appeared in the newspaper the other day describing the life of a certain layman called to holiness. It said the man was a successful farmer who also helped African Americans in their struggle for civil rights. He served in his parish as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and an instructor of the Bible. Asked how he wanted to be remembered, he replied: "As a Christian who believed in the brotherhood of man and tried to live that truth with his family, friends, and community."

Is it possible to live as a Christian without being called to a life close to Jesus? Can one be a true Christian if after attending Mass on Sunday he does whatever he wants on Monday? Or can a person be a Christian who does not pray, but regularly does charitable works? We have to answer "no" to these questions because the disciple of Christ must always follow him. However, we must admit that we are all in the process of conversion. The Lord has called everyone. For one reason or another some take longer to respond.

Some bishops are at pains when talking about vocations. They know that everyone has a call from God, be it to religious life, the sacrament of Holy Orders, or the committed laity. But bishops today are in enormous need of priests and religious. This is not a win and lose game. May more lay people respond to the call of Jesus. So as the grains of wheat spring from shoots, there will be more women and men with the courage to go against the drift.