New Year's Greetings, Brothers and Sisters!. I wish to share with you a few thoughts taken from the Gospel of today, THE 2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
What a friend we have in Jesus!What a friend Jesus had in John the Baptist! Why am I so enthusiastic about John?Because he was the man chosen by God to prepare the way of the Lord – when the Lord happened to be his very own cousin, Jesus. John was drawing large enthusiastic crowds to himself because of his compelling, challenging preaching and his stark life-style and appearance. Everything about him declared that he was a MAN OF GOD. And yet John insisted he was not worthy to fix the sandals of the one he was heralding, Jesus.
John knew that God meant him to be eclipsed by Jesus. He stated as much himself "He must increase, while I must decrease." John even assisted in shifting interest from himself to Jesus. John sighting Jesus in the crowd loudly announced " Behold the lamb of God!"Immediately two of John's followers left him and became followers of Jesus. To my mind there's only one word to describe the Baptist's gesture – MAGNAMINITY - BIG-HEARTEDNESS.
Andrew was one of the two who had moved from commitment to the Baptist to commitment to Jesus. He believed that in finding Jesus he had found the much longed-for Messiah. To Andrew this was such great, exciting news that he had to share his big find with his brother. He had to introduce Simon to Jesus. And to what effect? Jesus looked hard at Simon and selected him, not Andrew, for promotion. Simon was to be known as 'Peter' which means 'rock.' On him, not Andrew, Jesus would build His Church.
Andrew had done both Jesus and his brother a big favour in bringing them together. His love for both prevented him from resenting that he had been bye-passed. He would not be one of Jesus' own inner circle of Peter, James and John.
Today's Gospel reading is telling us something of vital importance to ourselves and to the Church. We must pray for the vibrant enthusiasm that compelled John the Baptist and Andrew to point others in the direction of Jesus. The Baptist was given the grace to see Jesus as the Lamb of God. Andrew was given the grace to see Jesus as the Messiah.They exploded with so much joy that they became instant evangelizers – spreading the Good News – creating the introduction to Jesus and then letting Jesus take them to Himself.
At this point I find it important to recall those people to whom I am indebted for sparking off or keeping alive my own enthusiasm for Jesus.In different ways they have led me tofeel impelled to share with others my excitement about Jesus As I now consider the world around me, the world that is brought to my attention through the media, I am convinced that this world urgently, even desperately, needs my enthusiasm for Jesus. Also yours.
You and I must pass on the Good News of our discovery of Jesus as did John the Baptist, as did Andrew, as have so many other enthusiasts for Jesus.We owe this to Jesus, to the world. Never should we allow this our enthusiasm for Jesus to become like a dimly glowing ember because of our lethargy, our laziness, still less because ofour despair….as though the world of today were far beyond repair!
We have just experienced the intense spirituality of Advent and Christmastide. Now we should approach this New Year with confidence in the love God has for our world. He sent His Son to become a member of the human family, to be its Saviour. Jesus continues His mission to save and heal the world in our generation. He does so through the Church, through people like you and me. He does this through good and godly people who have never heard of Him and never will.
Let's start the New Year with some of St. Paul's optimism "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8.31).
Peter Clarke, O.P.