(2nd Ordinary Sunday: 1 Samuel 3:3-19; 1 Corinthians 6:13-20; John 1:35-42)
Do you have a title? La Salette Missionaries write MS after their name, and the La Salette Sisters SNDS. Some of you, our readers, surely have academic titles, or wear a name tag indicating your role and status in your place of work.
In the Bible, names often serve this purpose. Jesus tells Simon, “You will be called Cephas,” which means Peter and defines his role, his vocation. It would be interesting to speculate what name Jesus might give to each of us. One thing is certain: it would be both a blessing and an obligation.
Take the simple name of disciple, for example. It is a beautiful thing to follow Christ; but the refrain of our life then becomes that of today’s Psalm: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”
This is the submission that the Beautiful Lady calls us to at the very beginning of her discourse.
Sometimes we fail to hear the call or, like Samuel, to understand where it is coming from. It may need to be repeated several times. Another person, like Eli, can help us understand what is happening.
If we accept one or both of the titles given us by Our Lady of La Salette—”my children, my people”—we may reasonably be expected to honor her by living accordingly and carrying out the great mission she has given us.
St. Paul proposes two less obvious names for believers: “temple of the Holy Spirit,” and “purchased at a price.” He draws the connection to the moral code that distinguished the Christians from the rest of Corinthian society.
Once we have recognized and accepted our vocation, it reveals itself constantly. Andrew said to Simon, “We have found the Messiah!” The truth of that statement resonated in their hearts and minds for the rest of their days.
For us, this is especially true of the Eucharist. In the Liturgy of the word we say in our hearts, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” At the altar we remember the great price Jesus paid to save us. Where else can we be more conscious of being built into the temple of the Holy Spirit? There we draw the strength we need to live our Christian name and title.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.
(Baptism of the Lord: Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11)
In today’s Gospel, there are three who bear witness to Jesus. The first is John the Baptist, who foretells his coming.
The other two, in order of appearance, are the Holy Spirit, in the visible form of a dove, and God the Father, who is heard, not seen. At the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, they assume their role in all that is to follow. St. John sums this up in our second reading: “The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth... Now the testimony of God is this, that he has testified on behalf of his Son.”
Witnessing to Christ is the vocation of the whole Church. This takes the form of words, of course, in the Scriptures and in Church teaching.
But as we see throughout the Gospels, the Father and the Spirit affirm Jesus’ person and ministry through their power and presence as well. Thus is fulfilled the saying of today’s first reading: “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth... my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”
At La Salette, as important as the Beautiful Lady’s message is, her witness is far more than words. It is light, it is a crucifix, roses, and chains, it is the eloquence of tears.
Similarly, there is a difference between speaking the truth and living it. No doubt, people in the area around La Salette used traditional religious speech, such as “Thank God,” but it did not translate into a way of life, at least not, as Mary pointed out, in participating in the great thanksgiving, the Eucharist.
The life of the baptized is not purely sacramental, of course. Our whole way of life ought to manifest the authenticity of our faith. At baptism we received a white garment; so too we ought always to be clothed in faith, hope, and love, as we live out the beatitudes.
None of this is to say that words are unimportant. We cannot think of La Salette without Mary’s loving invitation, her discourse, and her final sending forth. It is possible, too, that our words might help others to understand our way of life, as we play our part in fulfilling the mission of the Church.
Wayne Vanasse, and Fr. René Butler, M.S.