Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Come and See for Yourselves

The Gospels over the last few weeks have asked us to think about some very important things: the revelation of God's presence in the world with the Feast of the Epiphany; our remembering the beginning of His public mission with the feast of His Baptism; the very personal invitation that we all have received from the Lord at our baptism - and the commitment we that we make to that invitation.

Today, the Gospel of John reminds us that we are called to be disciples; we are all called to minister and proclaim God's word to the nonbeliever (to evangelize) and to share that word with our fellow believers (to catechize). How we respond to His call is the measure by which we reflect His constant presence to the world and how the Good News of Salvation is spread throughout it.

That same "good news" is being proclaimed to us today, challenging us to believe, to grow in faith, to reform, and to hasten the coming of the kingdom. The gentle voice of Jesus and his people proclaiming peace, forgiveness and love cannot and will not be silenced.

But still, as we move through a World and a Church of turmoil and uncertainty, we cannot escape the many painful questions that haunt so many hearts and minds.

For many, there is no such thing as "good news." God is distant, unconcerned, unforgiving. Our vision can be so clouded by false and misleading concepts of God and Church, that we cannot see the Good News as it is placed before us. Our purpose can become so blurred that the news we bring is not "good" at all. It's not good news if death and other human tragedies are seen as "God's will." It is not good news if God's love is felt as conditional, unattainable or limited only to certain groups of people. It is not good news to preach the value and dignity of human life, and then blindly turn our eye to the poor and homeless. It is not good news to preach peace and justice, and stand by idly as nations continue to war.

For most of us, the call to follow Jesus has not been very dramatic. There was no special moment, as in today's Gospel, when He approached us and said: "Come, and you will see." Most of us were baptized, and raised as Catholics in our younger days. We went through the motions of prayer and church and sacraments. We learned the basics of Christian doctrine. And maybe after some years of questioning and wandering, or maybe just laziness and indifference, we reached a point in our adult life when we began to take our Catholic faith seriously.

The call to discipleship is not one of revolution but of the retrieval of one of the most important elements in the church's tradition - service. And it has little, if anything, to do with "going to church" every Sunday.  

Service is what "discipleship" is all about. Throughout our life's journey the idea of "service to others" may take on many forms or varied flavors. And there may be a lot of mixed motives in our faithfulness to this ideal. It may be habit, or training, or family tradition. Perhaps, like Eli in our first reading, priests and nuns have been strong influences on our choice; perhaps the example of parents, relatives and friends have been a factor. But when our faith is challenged, when the call to discipleship is really difficult to live up to, we need to have a source to which we can return - time and again - to be refreshed, renewed and revitalized.  As mature, free and responsible adults, we have to have a solid, tested, reasonable base for our faith, for our decisions, for our actions, and for the fundamental values we live by. 

The Church, too, is part of the world that needs continuous revitalization to manifest itself as part of God's reign. It can be more of a community resource of support than it currently is. It can help me, my family, my friends be better at our ministerial roles - whatever those roles may be. Priesthood can mean so much more than it currently does to most... not merely as part of the privileged few, but in compassionate service to the whole community... by the whole community.

It may be that we need to focus a little more on the Kingdom of God outside of our static notions of Church. This may rankle some, but this is exactly what Christians are called to do. We've been gifted with the opportunity to live outside the walls of what's socially acceptable and to be involved in ministering to all the people of God in the diaspora. To make Him present and credible here and now, at every moment of our lives, is what the Kingdom of God is all about.

The Lord called Samuel by name; he called Simon by name - and gave him a new name.  For us - as those called by name in baptism - making the Kingdom of God present in the world is what defines our call to discipleship.

Our source of revitalization is Jesus Christ. He is our Father's gift; He is the revelation of God's truth and love. He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sin; He is model, brother and friend. He calls us to "Come and see for ourselves."

For us, there is no other way, no other source.