I write this message from the foggy, cool mountaintop home of Serra Retreat Center in Malibu. Fifty women from our parish are retreating to pray on the Epiphany readings and reflect on the stars in our lives, those guiding lights that point us to Jesus. I love beginning a new year with a retreat. This “vacation with God” is a wonderful opportunity to refuel and recommit time and energy to my spiritual journey. While I highly recommend and encourage a weekend retreat to anyone, scheduled intentional time with God to reflect on the Sunday readings each week from the comfort of our own home is just as valuable. God has some message for each of us. We just need to carve out the time in our ordinary day to listen. It’s that simple.
The theme of today’s readings is God’s invitation and our response (1). In the first reading, Samuel does not recognize the voice calling his name while he is sleeping: “Samuel, Samuel!” After the third time, his mentor Eli finally tells him what to say. What always strikes me about this story is the trust with which Samuel responds, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” For the rest of Samuel’s life, the Lord was with him always. It was that simple.
In the gospel, we hear another call and response. John the Baptist and two of his disciples encounter Jesus.
They are curious about him and what he is doing. Jesus said, “Come and you will see.” What did they do?
They followed Jesus with complete trust! It was that simple.
I wonder what those soon-to-be-apostles were thinking. What did they think they were going to see?
Today marks the beginning of Ordinary Time and the readings in the coming weeks will show us exactly what the apostles saw and experienced. They will walk us through Jesus’ daily life. If we are willing to go as the apostles did, we too will see, learn, and experience Jesus’ examples of love, forgiveness, healing, and ministry.
Ordinary daily life is where God shows up. Often times I think God is just saying hello. Other times I believe God is saying, “Listen up. Have I got something for you?” Every day, every week God invites us to confront real issues. How can I love the neighbor who irritates me? Can I forgive the family member who wronged me? What can I offer the homeless person on the corner? How can I comfort my grieving friend? We can never go wrong when we discern a situation and respond with loving Christian values.
Let’s journey together these coming weeks so we too can see and respond to God’s call to live our ordinary lives with extraordinary love. I promise it’s really that simple.
Faith Life Minister
(1) At Home with the Word 2018