POPE FRANCIS’ REFLECTION ON THE 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
14 January 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
As in the Feast of the Epiphany and in that of the Baptism of Jesus, so too today’s Gospel passage (cf. Jn 1:35-42) proposes the theme of the manifestation of the Lord. This time it is John the Baptist who points Him out to his disciples as “the Lamb of God” (v. 36), thus inviting them to follow Him. And thus it is for us: the One whom we have contemplated in the Mystery of Christmas, we are now called to follow in daily life. Therefore, today’s Gospel passage introduces us perfectly into Ordinary Liturgical Time, a time that helps to invigorate and affirm our journey of faith in ordinary life, in a dynamic that moves between epiphany and sequela, between manifestation and vocation.
The Gospel narrative [2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time year B] indicates the essential characteristics of the journey of faith. There is a journey of faith, and this is the journey of the disciples of all times, ours too, beginning with the question that Jesus asks the two who, urged by the Baptist, set out to follow Him: “What do you seek?” (v. 38). It is the same question that the Risen One asks Mary Magdalene on Easter morning: “Woman, whom do you seek?” (cf. Jn 20:15). Each of us, as a human being, is seeking: seeking happiness, seeking love, a good and full life. God the Father has given us all this in his Son Jesus.
In this search, the role of a true witness — of a person who first made the journey and encountered the Lord — is fundamental. In the Gospel, John the Baptist is this witness. For this reason he is able to direct the disciples toward Jesus, who engages them in a new experience, saying: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39). And those two [disciples] will never forget the beauty of that encounter, to the extent that the Evangelist even notes the time of it: “It was about the tenth hour” (ibid.). Only a personal encounter with Jesus engenders a journey of faith and of discipleship. We will be able to experience many things, to accomplish many things, to establish relationships with many people, but only the appointment with Jesus, at that hour that God knows, can give full meaning to our life and render our plans and our initiatives fruitful.
It is not enough to build an image of God based on the words that are heard; one must go in search of the divine Master and go to where he lives. The two disciples ask Jesus, “where are you staying?” (v. 38). This question has a powerful spiritual meaning: it expresses the wish to know where the Lord lives, so as to abide with him. The life of faith consists in the wish to abide in the Lord, and thus in a continuing search for the place where he lives. This means that we are called to surpass a methodical and predictable religiosity, rekindling the encounter with Jesus in prayer, in meditating on the Word of God and in practicing the Sacraments, in order to abide with him and bear fruit thanks to him, to his help, to his grace.
Seeking Jesus, encountering Jesus, following Jesus: this is the journey. Seeking Jesus, encountering Jesus, following Jesus.
May the Virgin Mary support us in this prospect of following Jesus, of going to abide where he lives, in order to listen to his Word of life, to adhere to him who takes away the sin of the world, to recover in him hope and spiritual impulse.
25 January 2015
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,
The Gospel today presents to us the beginning of Jesus’ preaching ministry in Galilee. St Mark stresses that Jesus began to preach “after John [the Baptist] was arrested” (1:14). Precisely at the moment in which the prophetic voice of the Baptist, who proclaimed the coming of the Kingdom of God, was silenced by Herod, Jesus begins to travel the roads of his land to bring to all, especially the poor, “the gospel of God” (cf. ibid.). The proclamation of Jesus is like that of John, with the essential difference that Jesus no longer points to another who must come: Jesus is Himself the fulfilment of those promises; He Himself is the “good news” to believe in, to receive and to communicate to all men and women of every time that they too may entrust their life to Him. Jesus Christ in his person is the Word living and working in history: whoever hears and follows Him may enter the Kingdom of God.
Jesus is the fulfilment of divine promises for He is the One who gives to man the Holy Spirit, the “living water” that quenches our restless heart, thirsting for life, love, freedom and peace: thirsting for God. How often do we feel, or have we felt that thirst in our hearts! He Himself revealed it to the Samaritan woman, whom he met at Jacob’s well to whom he says: “Give me a drink” (Jn 4:7). These very words of Christ, addressed to the Samaritan, have constituted the theme of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which is concluding today. This evening, with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome and with the Representatives of different Churches and ecclesial communities, we will gather together in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls to pray intensely that the Lord may strengthen our commitment to bring about the full unity of all Christians. That Christians remain divided is a very bad thing! Jesus wants us to be united: one body. Our sins, history, have divided us and that is why we must pray that the same Holy Spirit unite us anew.
God, in becoming man, made our thirst his own, a thirst not only for water itself, but especially for a full life, a life free from the slavery of evil and death. At the same time by his Incarnation God placed his own thirst — because God too thirsts — in the heart of a man: Jesus of Nazareth. God thirsts for us, for our hearts, for our love, and placed this thirst in the heart of Jesus. Therefore, human and divine thirst meet in Christ’s heart. And His disciples’ desire for unity is part of this thirst. We find it expressed in the prayer raised to the Father before the Passion: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21). That is what Jesus wanted: the unity of all! The devil — we know — is the father of division, the one who always divides, always makes war, does so much evil.
May Jesus’ thirst become ever more our own thirst! Let us continue, therefore to pray and commit ourselves to the full unity of the disciples of Christ, in the certainty that He Himself is at our side and sustains us by the power of his Spirit so that we may bring this goal closer. And let us entrust this our prayer to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, that she may unite us all like a good mother.
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