Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary- Homilies

"Disciples of Christ: Witnesses to His Life in Us"
Homily for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
16 January 2011
Year A

The streets of Rome today are just like the streets of any big, modern city: full of noise, traffic, grime, crude advertisements, and more noise, more traffic, and more grime. But as one walks along, suddenly, coming out of a narrow alley and into a large plaza, a shining marble facade rises up from the cobblestones - noble, majestic, and mysteriously attractive. Entering through the little wooden door on the side, the noise, traffic, grime, and crude atmosphere all fade away. One is suddenly surrounded by order, and beauty. The clean aroma of incense and the comforting silence of prayer, respect, and reverence exhilarate the soul. The exquisite statues, pillars, paintings, and mosaics inspire and humble. Looking around, gradually the eyes are drawn to the focal point of it all - the tabernacle, the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

The mature Christian is like that. Our world is full of noise and corruption and frenetic activity - and then one meets a Christian, and it's like seeing the beautiful marble façade rise out of the grime. Here is someone different - someone simple, noble, inspiring, mysteriously attractive. There is the feeling of being drawn to this person. As a person gets to know a Christian, a beautiful harmony of virtues is manifested - self-control, consideration, faith and hope, humility, wisdom... eventually discovering the source - Jesus Christ. This is holiness. This is the holiness we are called to, of which St. Paul speaks of in today’s second reading. We are God's living Temples, and he wants to make us into beautiful, inspiring, and lasting monuments to His glory.

In today’s Gospel, we find ourselves on the banks of the Jordan River once again. John continues his ministry. His baptism is one of repentance – it does not carry the sacramental grace of the forgiveness of sins yet people come to him to acknowledge their sins and to be symbolically washed in the bath of conversion of heart. John must have been overcome with confusion upon seeing Our Lord standing in line with sinners. Confused and yet mysteriously drawn to Him. In Jesus, St. John sees the fullness and beauty of the Divine. He sees the source of sanctity – the source of holiness – for all time: past, present and future. He sees the one about whom he had been preaching – the one who: “existed before” him – the One about whom he was to make “known to Israel.” We have to remember that John the Baptist is a believer – he has faith in Christ before seeing Him face to face – Jesus is the reason behind his words and deeds, the very center of His life. Because God had formed John “as His servant from the womb,” all of his words, his actions, and his entire ministry were ordered to God – to Jesus. Therefore, when he sees Jesus he cannot help but cry out: “Behold the Lamb of God.” He sees in Christ the one for whom his heart had been made. This intimate correspondence between what he has been waiting for all his life and what he beholds in the Lamb of God leads him to testify that Jesus is the Son of God.

The amazing and miraculous thing is that God gives us the same grace. We too were formed from the womb by God to be His servants. Our hearts were made for Him. By virtue of or baptism – our sacramental baptism – we are now identified with Christ as His followers, believers in Him. At the same time, by this grace, Jesus identifies Himself with us. He calls us – as His believers and followers – to be servants like St. John the Baptist. We are called to make Jesus known in our thoughts, in our words, and in our deeds. We are called to be those mature Christians to whom our relatives, friends, coworkers, classmates, and so on are mysteriously drawn. We are called to testify that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Son of God who by His grace and mercy takes away the sins of the world. We are called to be those Christians who – like the beautiful marble façades of the ancient churches of Rome rising up from the grime of the cobblestone – shine brightly before all and rise above our own sinfulness by the very grace of God. In order to embrace such a challenging call, we look again to the words of St. Paul who tells us to call upon the name of Lord. That is the key to our becoming mature Christians, to leading lives after the example of St. John the Baptist, to becoming holy. To call upon the name of Jesus Christ - this is the fundamental exercise, the essential exercise in our pursuit of holiness. We cannot become what God created us to be if we depend on our own strength alone. If we could do it ourselves, God would never have sent us a Savior. To call upon the name of Jesus Christ is to ask for help, to plug into God's grace - it means having a healthy prayer life. If we didn't include developing a more committed, mature life of prayer among our New Year's resolutions, it's not too late. It's never too late. A dozen times in every Mass we "call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ," because the Church is a wise Mother and wants to teach us how to grow in holiness, how to become what we were created to be.

Today, Jesus renews the call to holiness in each and every one of us. Today, and everyday, He gives Himself to us in Holy Communion as the source of sanctity, the source of holiness, the source of divine grace. Therefore, let us renew our commitment to give testimony to Him, let us give Him our hearts, so that we may be able to make Him known even in the midst of the most ordinary events of our daily lives.


Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in West Springfield, MA


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