A HOMILY FOR THE SECOND SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME – CYCLE “A” – 1-19-2020 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
At some point in the mid-1980’s, I met my friend, Claudia. I met Claudia on a retreat that I was helping to give, at her high school. I was just a few weeks away from ordination to the diaconate, and she was a junior in high school. We became friends right off the bat. And Claudia introduced to two things that would become very important to me. First, Claudia had the first Sony Walkman that I had ever seen. And I was blown away! You mean, suddenly, you could take your music with you, anywhere you wanted to go? And you didn’t have to carry around a boom box? Suddenly, you could work out with your music, or go for a run with your music, or just go for a walk, listening to whatever music you wanted to. It was awesome! The Walkman was the greatest invention of all time! At least until we got to the I-pod. But the second thing that Claudia introduced me to, became an even more important part of my life. You see when she lent me her new Sony Walkman to use for a weekend, she left inside it, a copy of the rock group U2’s first album, Boy. I listened to that music by U2, and I thought that they had written their music for me. I loved it! And I became a huge fan. Time Magazine was right when they said it was “Rock with a conscience!”. I listen to a lot of music, in the car, in my room, when I’m writing homilies, and my favorite music to listen to, is still, U2! I still keep in touch with Claudia today. We don’t talk often, but when we do we laugh about the Walkman, and how far digital music has come. And both of us are still huge fans of U2. She’ll send me a text when there’s a new album coming out or a new tour that might be coming to the Midwest. And I am grateful for her friendship, and the things that she has introduced me to, in this life.
I tell you this story today, because in our Gospel for this Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, we hear about John the Baptist introducing people that he care for, to Jesus, as the Lamb of God. Now, you might be thinking as we come to Mass today, wow, we heard about St. John the Baptist all during Advent, and then we heard about him some more during the Christmas season, and even last week, as we concluded our Christmas season, we heard about St. John the Baptist’s role at the Baptism of the Lord. You may be getting a little tired about St. John the Baptist, but he is THAT important to the whole story. So much so, that as we go into Ordinary Time today, it’s St. John the Baptist who is pointing to and announcing Jesus to the world. As St. John the Baptist had said, “He must become greater, and I must become lesser.” And so John the Baptist actively and aggressively pointed towards Jesus, and encouraged his followers and disciples to now go and follow Jesus. Just like Claudia introduced me to the Sony Walkman AND U2, so John the Baptist got busy introducing everybody that he could, to Jesus Christ. This transition was important. John the Baptist was NOT the messiah. And John wanted it made crystal clear that he was not. This is the perfect introduction to Jesus’ story, before we go any farther.
The question that this Gospel passage has to beg of each one of us, is how are we pointing to Jesus with our lives? You know, we are really supposed to be doing the same thing as John the Baptist did: We should be pointing out, and acknowledging, and leading all those around us to Jesus Christ. Are we? Or are we better at leading others to our favorite sport’s team, or our favorite restaurant, or our favorite music group. I’m serious here. Do more people around you know your favorite sport’s team, than know that you are a Catholic Christian? Do more people that you work with or go to school with, know your favorite restaurant, more than they know how or where you pray? Or how about do more people know your favorite kind of music, than know where you go to Church? Jesus Christ is supposed to be our most important message that we share with others every day. We don’t have to beat them over their heads with a Bible, or quote them the Catechism, or demand that they come to Mass with us, but in subtle, kind, gentle ways, we can communicate our own love for Jesus Christ and for His Church, and we can do it in such a way that it is contagious, and that others will want to be part of what we have. Claudia didn’t make me buy a Sony Walkman, and she didn’t make me love the music of U2. She simply shared her own love and experience. We can do the same thing with Jesus. We don’t have to force anything. He is very good at selling Himself. All we have to do, is open the door!
St. John the Baptist was so good at opening the door to Jesus for so many people. We can be too! But just like John, we must become lesser, and He must become greater, in our lives. And when that happens, everybody is going to want to follow Jesus! Trust me, it works!
+ May God bless us as we strive to build His Kingdom, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!