2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: Gospel – John 1:29-34

"
Who is Jesus to Me?"

Preached by Fr Philip Heng, SJ at Church of St Ignatius – Singapore
on 19 January 2014

John the Baptist in today’s Gospel proclaims the Divinity of Jesus.  He says, “I saw the Spirit coming down on Him from heaven like a dove and resting on Him . . . and I am the witness” to all this Truth that He is God, the Chosen One of God. . . I baptise you with water, but He is going to baptise you with the Holy Spirit.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, all of us here believe and have no doubts that Jesus is God, He is our Saviour, and as John the Baptist says, “Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”  We all have clarity of who Jesus is and we come here Sunday after Sunday, and for many of us daily to worship Him as a community in the Eucharist.

        

We all have faith . . . the main challenge is to put our faith in to practice.  And this simply put is to allow the Truth of who Jesus is into our daily living.  We are called to bring Jesus back to our homes after Mass and not leave Him in the tabernacle till we meet Him again next Sunday or only when we come to Mass.  We are called to be renewed in our faith each time we are at Mass and be Jesus’ strength to others who are in need.  We are also called to bring the healing graces of Jesus and His Hope to people who are in pain in the world.  We are called to be the Christ-like person to our broken world; to all peoples with whom we live, relate and work with daily.

How do we do this?  There is a story of a man who was crying out for help from within a well that he had fallen into.  A passer-by Tom heard the cry and leaned over the well and said, “Sorry my friend, life is full of sorrow.  I have so much problem myself, you have to find a way out yourself.”  In saying this Tom was convinced that in life we have to be responsible and get out of the mess we find ourselves in, and not expect others to bail us out.  Another passer-by Dick then came along, leaned over the well and said, “I want to help you, but you are too far down and I cannot reach you.  Let me see what I can do, but never returned.  He had good intension, but was too busy with his own needs in life.  He is convinced that in life, we can only help others after we help ourselves.  A third passer-by Harry then came along, leaned over the well, immediately, looked around for help and then climbed down into the well and helped the wounded and traumatised man out of the well.”

       

If we want to bring Jesus strength, healing graces and hope to our broken world then we need to get involved in people’s lives and not churn out principles that sound logical but, are essentially preoccupied with our own needs, as though happiness in life can be built without living a Christ-like.  We all know from experiences that true Happiness can only come if we have a selfless and Christ-like love for others . . . This is clearly because self-centredness can only create a life of anxiety and eventually misery.  Unless we climb into the well of the wounded and empathise with the traumatised, we have conveniently left Jesus in the tabernacle.

There is another story of a couple who after many years of married life were not able to conceive any child of their own.  So, they decided to adopt a child.  They met with the director of the orphanage who was so happy to meet such a God-centred couple.  The director said, “Mr and Mrs Wong, I know the perfect baby for you.  This little baby is so adorable; she is very healthy and always so happy.  She has come from very good parents who just could not afford to bring her up.  Mr and Mrs Wong immediately said, “No, the baby girl we want is the one that nobody wants to adopt.”  But, why the director asked?  Mrs Wong said, “We are so blessed by God in our lives and we want to heal the wounds and fill the heart of our child with the blessings and love that God has given us.”

      

My sisters and brothers in Christ, John the Baptist in today’s Gospel, proclaimed that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”  Jesus came into our world not only to climb into the well of our hurts, pain and sinfulness in our lives . . . Jesus not only came to seek out the abandoned and oppressed of this world.  Jesus came to heal our wounds and fill our hearts and homes with His Father’s Peace and Love . . . How does Jesus accomplish His Father’s Mission?  He offers Himself meekly and humbly to be slaughtered as the sacrificial Lamb . . . He embraces His Cross that all can then be saved.

Harry who climbed into the well, Mr and Mrs Wong who adopted the most needy of all infants are different stories of how we too can continue to be engaged in Christ’s Mission of healing and hope in today’s broken world.  To be a Christian is to live life to the full in Christ-like ways, in such a way that at the time of our death, the angels of heaven would be waiting for us with volumes and volumes of stories of how we have like Harry and Mr and Mrs Tan have been Christ’s healing and hope to others, and not waiting to meet us with only a few miserable pages of scribbled notes on our acts of kindness because we have lived a life like Tom and Dick – too preoccupied with our own needs and regretting that we have actually been chasing after a happiness that eluded us because it did not go beyond the care and concern of our own needs.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, during the week, I met a very holy parishioner who deeply edified me.  Mary (not her real name) is 82 years of age and has to care for her 87 year old husband who has been sick for many years.  She related the great demands her sick husband makes on her with such peace and tranquillity of heart that almost brought tears to my eyes.  Far from complaining, she continues to be so grateful to God for being so good to her.  Her health, at 82 is not good, yet her selfless care and patience for her sick husband was filled with so much Christ-like love and compassion.  As she was leaving my office, I asked her, “Mary, how are you going home?”  She said, “Father, I will walk to the bus stop; it is good exercise for me and on the way, I will first go to the Adoration room to be with Jesus for a while.”

         

My sisters and brothers in Christ, God has created each of us with a heart that is moulded and fashioned after the Heart of Christ, the Lamb of God who is willing to lay down His life out of love for us.  Mary our parishioner, is a good example of how you and I can be the Christ-like person to the hurting and wounded people around us.  What do we do then?

The answer is found in today’s response of our Responsorial Psalm 39 that says, “Here I am Lord!  I come to do Your Will.”   We have the answer, but in order to put God’s Will in to practice, we need to be detached from the attachments we have in life – whatever they may be; our material possessions, our self-image and also be detached from our hurts and woundedness in our hearts.  We need to be attached to Christ and as today’s Responsorial Psalm says, My God may I do Your Will; may I delight in Your Law in the depth of my heart.

Jesus the Lamb of God ended up on the Cross in living His Father’s Will to save all of us, and all of mankind.  Mary said “Yes” to God’s Will at the Annunciation even this meant that she may be stoned to death, when God called Moses from the burning bush, he said, “Here I am” (Ex 3:4).  When God summoned Prophet Samuel in the middle of the night he responded, “Speak Lord your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:4).  When God asked Prophet Isaiah, “Whom shall I send?”  Isaiah replies, “Here I am; send me!” (Is 6:8).  When John the Baptist saw Jesus, the Messiah, he was totally detached from his followers and pointed all of them to follow the True Messiah.

       

Let me then conclude by asking ourselves, “How will we answer God’s promptings to live His Will daily?”  Our answer will depend very much on whether we are willing to climb into the well; are we willing to embrace the suffering of people as in the story of Mr and Mrs Wong?  Are we willing to be edified by our 82 year old parishioner, Mary whose bones are aching, whose muscles are weakening, but whose heart is overflowing with Christ-like love and compassion for her husband who is in need.  Will we be willing to search our hearts when we go home today, or in the coming weeks, and say to our Lord, “Here, I am Lord!  I come to do Your Will?”  It is easier to live for ourselves, but it is happier if we live for God . . . and in His Ways.

Msgr Philip Heng,S.J.

                              

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