Whom Will You Follow?
Updated: Jan 18, 2021
Homily for Sunday January 17th, 2021
Some Homilies are easier to prepare than others. Often times the lectionary texts, or the scripture selected for a particular Sunday’s readings are not so clear as to how they’re linked together, or what direction the Homily needs to go, to present a message that’s both timely and needed.
This morning’s texts didn’t present much of a problem, at first. That is, until I began a bit of personal introspection. You see, sometimes it’s much easier to tell others what the right course of action is, than to do the right thing yourself.
It’s all well and good to profess faith in Christ, but how many of us actually listen to, and DO the will of the Father? When the Lord speaks, do you, like Samuel, in our first reading, respond with “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Then, again, listening is one thing, but doing is another matter all together. What do we do when what we’re hearing or reading in scripture doesn’t jibe with our personal feelings, belief, or modern social norms? Whom do you listen too? I’ve got to admit, I’ve struggled with similar questions myself.
Questions like these become even more problematic in our modern age when it comes to the topic of sexual immorality — very few topics that I can think of are so personal. I’ve had struggles, and quite possibly, so did the Apostle Paul — “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice (Romans 7:19).” However, just because we struggle with something, doesn’t give us license.
Most of us who are committed to Christ would like to know the secret to living free of sin. When Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery, “Sin no more,” we wonder, “How?” When He tells His disciples, “If you love me, keep my commands,” we ask, “Is that possible?”
John, one of Jesus’ closest followers, says it is. In 1 John 2, John gives us three ways to live free of sin and show Jesus we love Him.
1. Keep His commands.
In 1 John 2:3, John says, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.” Sin is a personal affront to God, a way of saying, “I love something more than God right now.” Our love for someone or something fuels our devotion to it, and our devotion demonstrates our love.
Sometimes emotion is lacking, but that doesn’t mean that the devotion should cease. Being disciplined and keeping God’s commands is a way of demonstrating our love for Him, even if we don’t “feel” like loving Him at the moment. Keeping God’s commands also helps us avoid sin before we ever approach it.
2. Do not love the things that belong to this world.
What we serve shows what we love. That’s why Jesus said believers cannot love both God and money (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). John takes this one step further in 1 John 2:15, writing, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.” Living free means being careful not to direct our love and devotion to anything other than Jesus.
3. Remember that Jesus always advocates for us.
None of us are perfect. Sin may be unintentional, or we may knowingly step into sin. No matter how or why we may sin, John reminds us of an ultimate and freeing truth: Jesus is always advocating for us (1 John 2:1-2). To advocate is to defend, and Jesus defends us with His sacrifice on the cross.
All sins are forgivable in Jesus, so when you do find yourself in need of forgiveness, ask for it honestly and wholeheartedly, knowing that He does forgive. And then go, and sin no more. The key is contrition.
One huge issue with modern, politically correct theology is that too many folks seem to be justifying, or trying to explain away sinfulness. Rather than seeking to find approval or justification for our sins we MUST seek the Lord in Spirit and Truth. Truly understanding the will of God in our lives requires “STUDY” (2 Tim other 2:15) — studying both scripture and what the early church taught regarding living a life IN Christ.
Today’s Gospel is about choosing to follow Jesus. But, following Him requires more than simply making a one-time proclamation, or getting wet. For many, the Christian life is too demanding. An AUTHENTIC Christian faith requires that we DIE to our self, our selfish desires, and even the lusts of the flesh and pride of life. (1 John 2:16)
The concept of “dying to self” is found throughout the New Testament. It expresses the AUTHENTIC essence of the Christian life, in which we take up our cross and follow Christ. Dying to self is part of the ongoing process of sanctification (becoming holy, and being “born again;” the old self dies and the new self comes to life (John 3:3–7). Not only are Catholics born again when we come to salvation, but we also continue dying to self as part of the process of sanctification. As such, dying to self is both a one-time event and a lifelong process.
How has following God’s commands helped you to avoid sin in the past?
If you look at where you spend your time, money and attention, is any area of your life getting more love and devotion than Jesus?
What’s one way you need Jesus to advocate for you this week?
LITURGY OF THE WORD
1 Samuel 3:3b–10, 19
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.” At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a, 17–20
Brothers and sisters:The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. 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? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi”—which translated means Teacher—, “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” —which is translated Christ—. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas”—which is translated Peter.