Sunday, January 17, 2021

2nd Sunday of OT (Cycle B): Here I am Lord


You can see the video here

      As I was reflecting on today’s readings, I kept wondering about how to relate these stories to the situations we have been living in our country for the last few weeks. What can God’s call, to 9 year old Samuel, and Jesus' first conversation with two of his future apostles teach us about the deep divisions, and anger we see every day in the news? About the fear and frustration of life in the middle of a pandemic? What light can these images shed on the way we are all feeling today about our country and our future?

  These were my thoughts that occupied my mind during my reflection and had to ask my family for a little help because I was having  difficulty with today’s readings. It was my older son, Lucas, who pointed out something I had completely missed. You see, in both of these stories we are witnessing events which are confusing and scary. In the first story we see Samuel listening to a voice in the dark calling his name. He is confused and asks Eli if he is the one calling him. An unknown voice, in the dark calling your name is a pretty confusing and scary thing, especially for such a young child. 

   In the second story we see Andrew and John, future disciples following the Lord after John the Baptist calls Him “the Lamb of God”. In a moment they did not expect, Jesus surprises them by turning around and asking. “What are you looking for?” They are so confused and surprised by this that they respond with the first thing that comes to their minds “Where are you staying?” 

   These two stories are born out of surprise, fear and confusion. However, although this is a common thread between them, the part that can help us navigate our own situations is not their surprise and fear but their reaction to an unexpected challenge coming directly from God. These events were just the beginning of something completely new, something none of these men could have predicted or even imagined!

  Samuel became one of the most important prophets of Israel. Andrew and John became part of Jesus' inner circle of apostles. What would have happened if any of these three men decided that this event was too scary to handle, or that they were too comfortable and happy with the life they were living and did not want to bother with living the life the lord was presenting in front of them?

   Of course if we try to describe the mood in our country for the last few months or last few weeks I think that anger, confusion and fear are the best words we can use. Now if we were to list the reasons why we feel like this we will list the usual suspects: The pandemic, social distancing, the election results and the reactions towards these results. And those are big reasons,  we can certainly add to this list things like, problems in our jobs, our schools, troubles with friends and loved ones. Fear of getting sick, or of a parent or a friend getting sick, and on and on.

  Anger, fear and confusion are natural reactions to sudden changes to the peace in our lives. As humans we don’t like change, we avoid it, we resist it. But in the history of any country as it is in the history of any person change is the only constant thing in life. How do we react to this change is what determines what kind of people we are, and I hope that if I were ever to ask anyone here to day (and anyone viewing our streamed mass): What kind of person you are, the first answer you all would give is: “I’m a follower of Jesus, I’m a Christian, I’m a Catholic. That’s the kind of person I am.”

     What will define us in these coming days, months and years of fear and confusion will not be how we voted, which political party we followed, what kinds of protests I agree with, whether I chose to wear a mask or I just don’t care anymore. What will define us as persons will be the way we react to the changes happening around us. Whether I decided to follow the Lord and how far was I willing to go. The one thing to know is this: It doesn't matter what is going on in my life at the moment. What matters is what kind of reaction I’m going to have to these events. 

   Am I willing to accept changes that I know will make the world less comfortable, less safe, less certain? Am I ready to embrace these changes like a disciple of the Lord should with faith and hope? Will I forgive those who offend me?  Will I pray for my enemies and the people who persecute me and threaten the security of my future and the future of those who I love?  

   Anger, confusion and fear are the results of losing control in our lives. But If you ask me the reason why we were born in these times and in this place was so that we can be an example and overcome these emotions and plunge ourselves into the darkness with confidence like young Samuel, and follow the Lord to wherever he wants to lead us like Andrew and John. This is what our families, our communities and our nation needs right now: it's not, democrat or republican leadership. It's not enraged protesters tearing  down the institutions that we are all supposed to protect, it is not Black Life Matters movement, it is not White supremacy ideas, it is not conspiracy theories, or crazy politicians. None of that can bring true peace to our nation. The only thing that it’s going to bring peace is true disciples of our Lord Jesus, like you and me, willing to embrace the changes and situations God is proposing to our nation, without fear, without anger and without confusion but with God’s love which surpasses all understanding. GBMBAS