January 17, 2021
“Who’s in control?”
It was a phone conversation similar to conversations that happen on a regular basis in today’s culture. A father was talking about his twenty-year-old son. The son was home because COVID closed his college dorms. Could the son now live in the house as an adult, making up his own schedule, not worrying about rules, being his own man? This is often the way our culture has young people putting things: how can they be themselves instead of someone else’s person?
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” These words today from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians cut us modern people very sharply. What can Paul mean when he says that “you are not your own”? Being our own is what makes us who we are, right?
All the readings we have today say that is not correct. They all show us that there are far more voices in our heads than just our own. They show that we are connected to each other and that, ultimately, all our connections are made real in God. The Gospel from John is a fascinating study of human connections, how people open up to each other, and how we are shaped by the relationships we have with others and God.
We have John the Baptist with a group of followers; he sees Jesus and calls him “the Lamb of God.” Two of John’s disciples get curious about Jesus. Jesus says, “Come hang out with me.” Then they go to people they know, inviting them to get to know Jesus. And, in the end, Simon Peter ends up with a relationship with Jesus that would unfold in different ways for the rest of his life. There are many voices in our heads, and these voices show who we belong to. Ask anyone who has come to love another… the beloved’s voice cannot be quieted.
Samuel is a powerful example of the power of voice. In his dreaming he hears his name called. What is that voice calling out to me? He doesn’t know what to make of it. Three times he awakens the old priest, Eli. At first Eli doesn’t know what to make of it either; but eventually he ends up teaching Samuel how to listen for the voice of God.
Our culture tells us to be our own persons, that we have to be self-sufficient and in control. But the last thing we have felt for the past year, and especially these past weeks, is “in control.” Our illusion of control can not only cut us off from the people and resources we actually need to live; it can cut us off from being able to hear the voice of God calling our name, affirming our relationship with God, and opening up the best paths for our journey.
What, then, is the Lord revealing to us? How is the Lord inviting us to see all of our life as something sacred because the Holy Spirit dwells in us and guides? How is Jesus saying to us, this day, “Come and see. Come and spend some time with me”? How is the Lord helping us see that we are most ourselves not when we are our own people but when we find ourselves connected to, loving, and serving each other?
Questions to ponder:
We often make checklists and to-do lists to help us feel in control. While these can be helpful, how often do we think about how God is really in control?
Are we open to God’s plans?
How can I make room in my schedule to spend time with Jesus and listen to his plans for me?
We are most ourselves when we are connected to others. Who is a friend or family member who might need a loving word I can connect with this week?
The Sunday Homily | Paulist Evangelization Ministries