Homily for January 21

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Homily for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

--> At first glance, the way Simon, Andrew, James and John
respond to Jesus’ call may seem extraordinary:
they just drop everything and head off in a new direction.
If that’s proposed to us as an example for how we might live,
it may seem impractical, even impossible.

But what’s really happening here is something we all experience
when there’s a change in the “ordering principle” of our lives,
a change in whatever or, more importantly, whomever
is at the center of our existence.

Do you think you haven’t experienced this?

• Remember, then, the first time you fell in love
and how that one, other person began to occupy
your heart, your mind, your dreams, your hopes, your plans.

• Remember how the ordering principle of your life changed,
again, when you got engaged.

• Remember how your world was reordered
when you learned that you were expecting a child.

• Remember how the whole universe
seemed never the same again
after you lost someone you deeply loved.

• Think of how your work, your job,
can be the ordering principle in your life
and how everything’s thrown off kilter if you lose your job.

• Think about the way your family
is the ordering principle in your life,
how your life revolves around the needs and desires,
the ups and downs of the people in your family,
how your own daily plan is organized
around the school schedules
and sports calendars of your children.

• Or perhaps you’re single or not raising any children.
While some might presume you live an easy and care-free life,
you know how quickly any vacuum of time and energy is filled
by work and worry, by responsibilities and relationships.

• And who doesn’t realize how easily our finances
take over as the ordering principle in our lives.

Perhaps the account in the gospel
tells the story just as it happened:
Jesus happens by Simon and Andrew, James and John
and says, “Come, follow me.” And off they go!

Or perhaps this scene is more like a still shot from a video,
intended to sum up a larger story.

Think of a photo of a newly married couple,
holding their hands forward
and looking together at their wedding rings.

The picture gives us only a moment
but tells the story of a relationship years in the making,
a relationship that will reorder the couple’s lives
until death parts them.

Whether it's "love at first sight"
or a relationship that grows day by day, over years,
it's the love at the center of our hearts that orders our lives.

For us to give serious consideration to this gospel story
we’ll need to spend some time discerning
what’s presently the ordering principle in our lives.
(This is a good question for anyone to ask
and it’s certainly a question for believers.)

Sometimes we may presume that the love we're pledged to
is what orders our lives
but there are many times when other realities and lesser loves
hedge the one we may name as most important.

• For a pastor like me,
Christ should be the ordering principle of my life.
But what if my work, even my work for Christ, consumes me -
such that there’s little or no time left for my prayer life,
no time left for me to grow in my relationship with Jesus…

• Certainly the same can be said of the married person
consumed by work – work to support a beloved family.
But if that work is consuming to the degree
that one has little time left to spend with the family...

Well, you see how it can go...

Perhaps the key to our understanding this gospel passage,
to understanding how these four men
left behind their familiar, day-to-day lives,
the key is to ask ourselves the question:
Who’s at the heart of my heart’s deepest desire?

For whom will I drop everything else
and leave behind other, even critically important, realities
to be faithful to the one who is the heart of my heart?

What is so precious to me
that I would let go everything in favor of such a beloved?

On a wedding day, on an ordination day,
these answers may come quickly and easily.
As time goes by, the answers may change
and the questions may be harder to answer.

St. Paul called us today to reexamine everything in our lives:
our loves, our marriages,
the tears of our grief, the laughter of our joy,
and everything we have and possess and use
and to know, to understand that all of this - will pass away
until all that remains will be the love of God for us.

Make no mistake about it: the Lord asks to be The One
for whom we would be willing to put everything else aside.

we’re not called to choose between God and those we love.

Very often, more often than not, loving those closest to us
loving those for whom we’re responsible
is precisely how we express our love for God.
But even here, there can be too much of a good thing
if my dedication to my loved ones begins to drain
the vitality of my relationship with the Lord.

But, as he was with Jonah, the reluctant prophet,
so is the Lord with us.
He continues to call us to lay aside what we’re doing,
to abandon the nets that entangle our priorities,
and to follow him, to be with him,
to spend our lives with him and for him.

We gather each week in the shadow of the cross of Jesus,
the great sign that reminds us that he let go,
laid down everything for us
- for he loved us more than life itself.

At this table every week the Lord invites us,
calls us again and again
to be filled with his life in the bread and cup of the Eucharist
and to follow him along the path of our hearts’ desire.

Listen for his voice:
as he called Jonah, as he called Peter, Andrew, James and John,
so he calls each of us by name: he calls,
Chris, Judy, Al, Mary, John, Jorge, Pat,
Peggy, Bill, Elizabeth, Jimmy…

He calls,  “Come, follow me…”

To all of us, to each of us, to every one of us, he calls out,
“Come, follow me!”



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