by Father Caleb Buchanan
“JESUS CHRIST IS the radiant dawn of a new creation, new people, a new freedom.”
We have just concluded the Christmas season regaling the Lord Jesus Christ and celebrating His birth with unspeakable joy. We completed this season of festive hope with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Spirit of God hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation. The Spirit of God hovers over the waters of the River Jordan at the dawn of the new creation and gospel redemption in Jesus Christ. Emerging from the River Jordan, the newly baptized Jesus, John’s Gospel tells us today, begins this work of the new creation by building a new people for God and His glory in the world.
In John 1:19-51, the evangelist sets forth six accounts of witness and testimony over seven days. This Gospel narrative represents the activity of days three through four in a seven-day week. Scripture scholars view this “week” as the new creation. God created a new people, starting with the testimony of the Baptist, and ending with the miracle at the Cana wedding feast.
John the Baptist’s testimony awakens the hunger and desire for faith in the revelation of the saving power of God in Jesus Christ. Andrew and Simon are moved to pursue the Lord and the Lord uses this pursuit as the opportunity to evangelize through an invitation to see where He was staying. The process of evangelization, that is inviting others to behold the presence of Jesus and listen to His Good News for our lives, is the manner in which we continue Christ’s work in building His Kingdom.
Today’s Scriptures lay out four ways we can become more radiant as Christ’s new creation and new people offering the world a new Gospel freedom.
First, as Psalm 40 reminds us, live a life of praising God and asking Him for His Help in time of need. The Heavenly Father is always speaking to His children and drawing them to Himself by the grace and love of His Son, Jesus Christ. Living a life of praise and petition before the throne of His Majesty and Power prepares us to hear His voice calling us to a new life with Him and to new ways of serving Him.
Second, as First Samuel shows us today, learn how to listen and respond to the voice and call of the Lord in your life. As the preachers of old referred to Him, He is the “Hound of Heaven,” who is relentless in reaching for and speaking to us, His children. We are the “apple of His eye.”
How do we discern the voice of the Lord like Samuel struggled to do in his life? First, find what Samuel had in his life. He had Eli. He had a holy mentor. Throughout the history of salvation and the journey of the pilgrim Church on earth, many among the most blessed and joyful of Christians were guided by the star of a holy Christian mentor or spiritual director. We are reminded by 20th-century theologians that we are “hearers of God’s Word” made to access that Word through each other at liturgy and in life. If you are in doubt about the Lord’s call in your life, it may be time to speak to a shepherd you admire in the Lord’s vineyard to seek counsel for solid spiritual guidance in your life.
Third, in the spirit of today’s second reading from First Corinthians, heed the words of St. Augustine: “Freedom is the ability to do that what you ought to do (not merely anything you want to do).” We cannot have peace praising God and discerning His call in our lives if we are using our freedom to violate our bodily, mental, psychological and spiritual purity.
Our bodies are made for the indwelling of the Spirit of God. Through us, the Spirit of God shines forth His saving freedom from sin and evil when we are unencumbered by the wiles and unbridled passions of the world.
Fourth, exchange your agenda for yourself and what human development experts use to call your “self-project” for Christ’s desire, initiative and redemptive work in you. You will be most joyful and blessed when your identity, your life, your purpose, your destiny and your mission is reclaimed, renamed, restructured and reoriented by Jesus Christ.
As He renames Peter with the name Cephas in today’s Gospel, if you yield to His reign over your life, you will be a solid rock in His Kingdom for ever and ever, Amen.[hr] Readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time:
1 Samuel 3: 3b-10, 19
Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-8, 8-9,10
1 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a, 17-20
John 1: 35-42[hr] Father Caleb Buchanan is the parochial vicar of St. Martin de Porres, Bedford-Stuyvesant; coordinator of the Vicariate of Black Catholic Concerns, the diocesan West Indian and African-American Apostolates; and chaplain of Medgar Evers College.