Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time | January 17/18, 2015
PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This homily is based on the first and Gospel readings.
There is something quite bittersweet about this time of year.
You drive down streets littered with Christmas trees shoved to the curb.
The light displays are all dismantled.
All of our family and friends have returned to their work and their homes.
All of the excitement and anticipation, the joy and the togetherness that marks the Christmas season has passed us by for another year.
It’s always sad to admit that Christmas has come to an end.
And yet, I love January for its own reasons.
I love MLK day, when I do service projects with our students.
I love celebrating Saint Francis de Sales’ feast day, especially mass with Salesianum and Nativity to mark our common heritage as sons of Saint Francis de Sales.
And of course, I love Catholic School’s week. I love the contests that our students compete in, the ridiculous dress days that we participate in, and the sense of community that I experience that week.
Even though I love Christmas, I would not want to lose the other seasons that follow after. For each one brings its own blessings and challenges. It is as if January is a reminder that we must let go of the seasons that have past if we wish to embrace the one that we are in.
I was reflecting on this dynamic after reading the scriptures for this weekend.
For in many ways, John the Baptist was faced with this very dynamic in the Gospel for today.
For years, John had faithfully lived out his call as a herald and a prophet. He called his fellow Israelites to repentance. He challenged the leadership of the time. He served as a model, gathering disciples who were devoted to him.
And then in a moment, he was asked to surrender it all. He was asked to move into a new season in his life, one in which his star would be eclipsed by the light of the sun.
He would need to let go of his disciples so that they could follow Jesus.
He would need to let go of his public ministry, enduring the humiliation of imprisonment.
And ultimately, he would need to let go of his own life, embracing the call to martyrdom for the sake of the God he loved.
Each of us in turn is faced with a similar challenge, to let go when we are called to enter a new season in our life.
To let go of the bitterness or the anger that prevents us from moving past the hurts of the past.
To let go of our wishful dreaming that prevents us from being happy in the place where we have been called.
To let go of how things used to be and gently accept how things now are, as difficult as they may be.
To let go of our children as they grow older so that they may pursue the path that God has prepared for them.
To let go of our independence and gently accept when we can no longer do the things we once did.
This process of transition is never easy.
But it is in this new season where we can encounter God anew, in a way we never expected.
Like Samuel, we too can hear God speaking to us in a new way. Ours may not come as a voice from the clouds as much as . . .
In the voice of our spouse who remains faithfully by our side as we age.
In the voice of our friend who takes us out for tea after the ink is dry on the divorce papers.
In our college student who texts us to say thank you for a wonderful break.
In our colleague who wishes us well on our retirement.
In the gentle stirrings of our heart that give us courage to say yes to the move that will radically upend our life.
We too can hear God call our names.
All we must do is keep our hearts open, no matter where we find ourselves.
Here we are my friends, at the beginning of another season, another year.
May we too have the courage to utter the words that should mark every season of our lives as Christian people.
Speak Lord, we your servants are listening.
May God be Praised.