HOMILY: Chosen & Transformed

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time | January 15, 2017

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

PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on the Psalm and Gospel reading.

So the psalm from this weekend holds a special place in my heart.

For it was the psalm that was sung when I took my 1st vows.

I remember singing that psalm with such gusto. Yes Lord. Here I am I have come to do your will.

But today, as I stand before you, I must admit. I’m a lot more wary of this psalm.

Because I’ve discovered that the will of God is often a lot more than I bargained for.

​See I guess I sort of presumed that God’s will and mine were really just the same thing.

Until they stopped being so.

When my will was to be home, I found myself sitting at my desk, making sure everything was set for the retreat the next day.

When my will was to be comfortably in bed sleeping, I found myself driving to the hospital to sit by the bedside of a patient who was dying.

When my will was to enjoy a nice dinner with friends, I found myself sitting with a student listening as he spoke about his broken heart and desire to just give up.

When my will was to be the teacher that everyone loved, I found myself sitting in a parent-teacher conference being told that I had put her son into the hospital by my lack of compassion and concern.

When my will was to safely surround myself with people who thought like me, I found myself having to preach in front of congregations that were skeptical of the Gospel I was preaching.

And when my will was to keep safe the students I worked with, I found myself burying two within a year.

Is it any wonder that when I hear this psalm now, I am much more realistic about what it is asking.

For I now know that following the will of God is going to continuously force me out of my comfort zone. It will ask my leave my safety net behind and journey down an unknown path. It will come with a cost that I will often be reluctant to pay.

But when I hear this Gospel for today. I realize that I am not alone in this discovery. For both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ came to discover throughout the course of their ministry the cost of pursuing God’s will.

John the Baptist was a man who followed his call out into the desert, learning to live on the outskirts of the society he had been raised in. Who watched his disciples ultimately leave him to follow another. Who lost his life for the sake of the truth he refused to deny.

Jesus Christ was a man who was consistently misunderstood by both his admirers and opponents. A man who experienced betrayal and abandonment. Who suffered death at the hands of the people he had come to set free.

In their stories, we are under no illusion of the costs that come with discipleship.

But in reflecting on the costs, it is easy to miss two other truths that come with following the will of God.

Truths that these men also knew.

The first truth that is at the heart of the baptism of the Lord.

​Which is that all who are called to follow God’s will are first chosen.

​Chosen to be beloved sons and daughters of God.

​A choice that is never revoked

​No matter how badly we fail or how far away we stray

​All that are called to follow God’s will are first loved.

​Not because of what we have done or failed to do.

​Not because of our status or standing. Not because of our race or creed.

​But because of the fact that we are crafted and made in the image and likeness of God.

​And in that love we are set free. Free to pursue the will of God.

Knowing God’s love will help us to sustain the cost. To endure the rejections. To learn from the failures. To hang in there through the rejections and the loneliness. To rise again from the exhaustion and the heartbreak to labor again in the morning.

And the second truth that is at the heart of discipleship ​

Which is that in following the will of God, we become transformed into the likeness of the one we follow.

No matter what the will is of God is for each of us, no matter how grand or small it may seem. The results are the same.

Our hearts are stretched open wider to see the other who is broken all around us. To look into their face and see the face of God, whether that face is chiseled with age or wrapped in a hijab. Whether that face is battered and bruised by the hand of domestic violence or gaunt with hunger. Whether that face stares back with eyes of malice and suspicion or eyes brimming with tears.

Our fears are slowly banished as we come to realize that nothing and no one can wrench us from the arms of God.

Our eyes are widened to see the kingdom that is being built around us and we find ourselves jumping in to continue the work to which we are called.

And so yes, my friends. I will still sing this psalm.

Here I am Lord. Here I am. I come to do your will.

Will you join me in singing the psalm? May God be Praised.

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