Friday, January 15, 2021

HOMILY – Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – Come and See


        “What are you looking for?”

These are the first words Jesus speaks at the beginning of John’s Gospel. They are directed not only to these two disciples of John the Baptist, but to all of us.

As Seattle’s Auxiliary Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg shared in his book Come Follow Me, “First words are important words.”

Jesus asks, “What are you looking for?” 

It is a question posed to the eventual Apostle Andrew and an unnamed person some scholars believe is the beloved disciple John (author of this Gospel).

“What are you looking for?”

Why do we come to Mass?  Are we here because it is an obligation? Or are we here to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ and better hear his voice urging us to serve others and Him.

“What are you looking for?”

Are we open to deepening our understanding of what Christ is teaching us or do we have it all figured out?

“What are you looking for?”

Jesus speaks these provocative words for a reason. He wants us to reflect on why faith is important in our lives and to learn how to better share our witness with the world. 

Jesus then invites the disciples, and us, to, “Come, and … see.”

After spending a short time with the one John the Baptist called “the Lamb of God,” Andrew is so excited about what he has found he cannot wait to share the good news with his brother Simon Peter and bring him to Jesus.

Bishop Mueggenborg says, “The story of the first disciples is not complete until we are told they go out and introduce others to Jesus… The Gospel of John is trying to tell us that discipleship necessarily involves missionary outreach to others inviting them to share in the relationship we have with the Lord.”

This is an invitation to an even greater journey. When we follow Jesus, we learn to follow him everywhere. We follow him to hospital rooms and to prisons, to the homeless on the streets and to the poor in faraway lands. We follow Jesus to wherever he calls us to follow him, and “Come … and see.”

And this is not always a comfortable place. But he always calls us to deepen our understanding and awareness of Him as we serve our neighbors, no matter who they are.

This is not a place of opinions about what we think about people and how they live their lives, but a place where love and mercy can blossom, a place where others (and we) can find Jesus.

         I have been blessed to see these transformations in understanding and awareness with our MercyWatch team in Everett.

Over 250 volunteer doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, medical scribes, food preparers and street outreach volunteers tend to the homeless in Snohomish County. Our team will this week begin a partnership with the Snohomish Health District to provide COVID vaccinations to those experiencing homelessness in our area.

I’ve also been blessed to see these transformations in young people and older parishioners who joined a parish mission trip to one of the poorest parts of Guatemala in the summer of 2015.

We built houses, built stoves, built roads, and left behind thousands of dollars donated by our Everett parish community to contract local carpenters and artisans to finish the work started by our parishioners.

          In addition, we learned how to do laundry the old-fashioned way with water and wash board. We learned how to carry large, heavy bundles of firewood sticks using our foreheads and our backs. We even were invited to play our new friends in a fun game of soccer, and even held our own thanks to the athletic talents of one of our younger parishioners who was a scholarship collegiate softball player on the LaSalle University team. This young woman is now a doctor based in Chelan county serving those on the margins in a rural health district. Her life forever transformed by her missionary discipleship work.

In each of these experiences, we built relationships with the people of the community. And most importantly we walked in their shoes.

We all experienced something amazing and deepened our relationship with Christ as we entered into relationship with those living on the margins.

This is how we are called to embrace Pope Francis’ Culture of Encounter. This is how we join Jesus to “Come, and … see.” 

We are currently forming a team (at Christ Our Hope and St. Pat’s) to engage with our unhoused sisters and brothers in downtown Seattle. If you want to take part, shoot me an email. Formation starts this month.

If you are unable to join us on the streets for this outreach, you can help by supporting our outreach efforts by purchasing needed survival items. See this week’s parish email for ways you can donate to this important initiative.

God calls each of us to serve in the ministry of Jesus, just as God called Samuel to be a trustworthy disciple of the Lord.

Sometimes we, too, may be like Samuel, confused when God comes calling us by name.

Let us pray we will all learn to better hear God’s voice and respond to God’s call with “Here I am Lord your servant is listening.”   

 In Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel) Pope Francis encouraged us all to do our part, saying, “Every Christian is a missionary to the extent that he or she has encountered the love of God in Christ Jesus: we no longer say that we are ‘disciples’ and ‘missionaries,’ but rather that we are always ‘missionary disciples.’ If we are not convinced, let us look at those first disciples, who, immediately after encountering the gaze of Jesus, went forth to proclaim Him joyfully: ‘We have found the Messiah!’ (John 1:41).” 

So, I ask you again. “What are you looking for?”

Perhaps it is time to follow Jesus’ call to “Come, and … see,” and join in as we share Christ’s ministry of love to the world.

I’ll leave you with this. The late Jesuit Dean Brackley had a famous quote about the power of transformation that comes from this Culture of Encounter on the peripheries. He wrote:

“First it breaks your heart, then you fall in love, then you’re ruined for life.”

This is how we conform our hearts to Jesus. This is how we step further into the kingdom. This is how we best serve Christ. 


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