THE CALL TO LOVE
HOMILY – 2nd SUNDAY OT [B] – 14 January 2018 [John 1:35-42]
Yesterday saw the second wedding this year in our cathedral. Two more people answered the call to love and made a public commitment to be together till death. The day was glorious, the smiles genuine, the excitement tangible and the bride beautiful. A truly happy occasion. Everything you would expect on a wedding day.
But no one expects things to stay that way. Life challenges love with its unpredictable twists and turns. Joy can become sadness in a moment; worry and pain can quickly erase the memory of peace and laughter.
When we travel the road of love we must be prepared for hurt on the journey; disappointment and setback. Love is demanding and can sometimes appear to take more than it gives. Love survives and makes sense only when it’s a shared love, not a self-centred love.
I began with the example of marriage, but it is the same for every relationship.
The first disciples of Jesus were attracted to him after hearing the witness of John [today’s gospel]. Where do you live? Come and see! So began a relationship not unlike any that you or I might experience. The love that grows from a first meeting will determine the strength and endurance of the connection. But, whether that love leads to discipleship, marriage or a deep friendship, it will not be without challenge.
Samuel [first reading] hears a voice calling his name, but needs time and help to identify it. This uncertainty is also part of the process that guides each of us on the journey of self-discovery. Who or what is calling me on, laying claim to me, urging me to find my complete self through this outside connection?
Take some time this week to consider your own journey:
Were you ever aware of any “call”? It may not have been a voice, but perhaps a feeling, a sense that you were meant to go in a particular direction. Did it lead to love, to a commitment that has brought or is bringing you to a place of personal fulfilment? And what has challenged your love? An illness? A tragic loss? Depression? Redundancy? Aging?
How have you coped with setback? Has it caused you to question love? What supported you in the dark times? How do you view love now?
St Paul [2nd reading] reminds us we are not our own property. We belong to the Body of Christ, and we follow the crucified Jesus, the one who wove love and suffering into one basket, making visible the mystery that so many people are still not able to accept.
A father, grieving the loss of his son in a motor accident, shouted out his anger and pain at the funeral, saying, if I hadn’t loved him I wouldn’t have this sadness!! The support we give one another, especially to those hurting or doubting, is crucial for love to survive.
Our inner being calls us to find and cling to love, for we cannot live without love. Yet love is not easily tamed and brings its own demands. There are consequences to loving that sometimes carry very difficult questions. One of them relates to the current public debate on euthanasia – and that’s the theme I would like to address next week.