The Sunday Gospel
Fr Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap.
If you have access to a streamed Mass this Sunday, you will notice that we have returned to the green vestments of Ordinary Time. Green is the colour of growth and we can call it the default colour of the year when our journey is inspired by the teaching and events of the public ministry of Jesus.
They were familiar with the sacrificing of lambs, and with their memory of when their forefathers in Egypt were saved by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their houses”
Today’s Gospel (John 1:35-42) starts with John the Baptist passing the torch to Jesus. John had made it known that he was preparing the way for someone coming after him. As Jesus passed by, John stared hard at him. He said to two of his followers, “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” It might not mean much to us, but to these Jewish lads it was a title loaded with meaning. They were familiar with the sacrificing of lambs, and with their memory of when their forefathers in Egypt were saved by the blood of a lamb sprinkled on their houses. Some years later it was at the very time when lambs were being sacrificed in the temple that Jesus was crucified.
Where do you live
The two followers of the Baptist then trailed after Jesus who noticed them and asked them, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Master, where do you live?” This was a nice way of saying that they would like to have a chat with him. It wasn’t his postal address that they sought but what one might call his spiritual home, where and how he lived in relationship with God.
Come and See
“Come and see”, he replied and so they went with him and stayed with him the rest of the day. We are told that it was the tenth hour. In those day before mechanical clocks there were 12 hours from sunrise to sunset and 12 from sunset to sunrise. The tenth hour was two hours before nightfall. A man home from the missions in Africa informed me that whenever they had a long journey, they wanted to arrive two hours before sunset to allow time to unload and freshen up before the evening meal. So, the tenth hour represents journey’s end. The searching soul has found home with the Lord. What is important thereafter is to spend time with the Lord. St Augustine was a man who searched down many roads before he found his home with God. “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
Space and Symbols
Years ago, I read a good introduction to prayerfulness called Make Space, Make Symbols, by an American Capuchin, Keith Clarke. The invitation of Jesus is to come and see. A symbol is something that links us up with a bigger reality. But first we have to organise life so as to have space for God’s invitation to come and see. It’s not easy today because our minds are invaded by noise, new gadgets, things we must have and the urge to test and taste everything. Many people have to begin with breathing exercises and muscular relaxation in order to create space for God.
Having created this space or room for God, where is our symbol or way of connecting with God? The beauty of it is that there are any number of connections, many ways of prayer. If you have a favourite way, stay with it. It may be a friendly chat, the rosary, a favourite mantra, a visit to a church. Personally, I draw my prayer from pondering on the Gospel of each day. What word or phrase enlivens me? What does it say about God? Where does it connect with my life this day?
Morning and Evening
May I suggest two simple exercises that I find helpful? Start each day by thanking God for refreshing sleep and the gift of a new day. May it be a good day, a day of helping others. Take a few deep breaths and invite the Holy Spirit to fill your lungs with God’s love. You may be under pressure of time but this morning prayer will only take a minute or so.
The fact that you are alive, a nice meal, something beautiful that you saw or heard, a helpful shop assistant, a funny moment, good example”
Then, at the end of the day, it’s a grand form of prayer to sit quietly and reflect on the day. Don’t concentrate on your faults or what wrong you did. Rather, recall the good things, the blessings of the day. The fact that you are alive, a nice meal, something beautiful that you saw or heard, a helpful shop assistant, a funny moment, good example. The list is endless but we are not sufficiently aware of these blessings. End the day on a note of thankfulness. Perhaps, make a note of one blessing in your diary.
“Come and see…follow me”. Lord Jesus, we hear your words of invitation addressed to us personally. Grant us the grace to be at home with you in prayerfulness. May we experience prayer as a time when you are looking at us as we are looking at you…friends, enjoying your presence, happy to spend time with you.
We pray for those who do not know you. Break through the clouds that darken their lives. May your face shed its smile upon them and draw them to follow you.