It’s hard to believe that Seinfeld remains as popular a show now as it was when it debuted over 25 years ago. How old does that make everyone feel. The self-described “show about nothing” living on in syndication on streaming online or DVD’s still attracts millions of viewers on a daily basis all around the world. Myself included. One episode that was on a week or two ago featured the character Elaine Benis getting Kramer and Newman to assist her in a moment of great need. She wanted to get rid of a neighbors dog who after endlessly barking at night made sleep impossible leaving her at a point of mental and physical exhaustion. So they conspire to kidnap Roxy, and let the dog loose somewhere in upstate New York. They never imagine the creature finds himself running all the way back home to New York City right back to his owners apartment, and barking once again tormenting poor Elaine.
Thanks so much for stopping by to read this, my homily for THE 2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME January 17, 2021, for sharing it on your social media posts and your feedback and comments! For the audio version you can get them at SOUNDCLOUD click HERE or from ITUNES as a podcast HERE. Thanks again… I hope you and yours experience all of God’s blessings today and always! In Christ – Father Jim
This being a sitcom, an elaborate investigation is opened by the NYPD into the pooches initial disappearance… where they were able to link a piece of Kramers shirt (that Roxy had torn off in the incident and somehow carried with him in his hundreds of miles running home) and eventually arrest Kramer, Newman and Elaine.
As the police are taking Elaine to the police station, looking at what her life has become – kidnapping a dog with these two imbeciles in the middle of the night and then getting arrested for it – she gets very reflective and philosophical as she declares “I need to make some changes… what kind of life is this?”
That’s kind of a trending thought or attitude a lot of people share right now. Being only a couple weeks into the New Year, this is often a time where people have taking on New Year’s resolutions focusing on specific areas that they want to make some changes – gotta eat better, drink less, exercise more… This week in particular we’re aware more so than usual what a very polarized and divided nation politically we have where people who have very different understandings of what changes need to be made as a nation as tomorrow we mark Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, the Inauguration on Wednesday and then the 47th anniversary of the Roe V Wade decision on Friday which legalized abortion, the destruction of the innocent life in the womb… so we are well aware that the idea of “change” comes from vastly differing viewpoints on a whole range of issues.
Spiritually, many people find themselves in a very reflective spot as well. Whether they are faithful Catholics who find themselves at Mass regularly – to those who are lapsed or haven’t really practiced any religion for some time, after a year where sickness, death and fears both real and those imagined or manipulated that have been front and center for everyone… one of the things that has resulted is in the introspection people are having saying “I need to make some changes – spiritually…” That’s evidenced by how the top podcast in the nation for the last 3 weeks has been Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year podcast. This audio of Fr Mike reading and offering a short reflection for 20 minutes a day on scripture has been the number one podcast in all categories in the United States since it debuted beating shows from the NY Times, ESPN and an assortment of celebrities and personalities that constantly were in that top spot for years.
No doubt The collective unrest, the pandemic, the tension all combined has great majorities of people looking at the world, looking at the nation, looking at ourselves and saying we “need to make some changes.”
Which is exactly the place that the two disciples of John the Baptist find themselves in at the start of this Gospel. We hear of Andrew and another who remains anonymous (perhaps as an invitation for each of us to place themselves into the narrative) who have been following John the Baptist. What drew them to John was listening to him preach of the need for repentance – for a change of heart, a change of life that was necessary for everyone – whether it was the Roman occupiers, the Jewish leaders and teachers, to the regular man and woman on the streets. He had been calling out the corruption, the lies, the deceit that had affected and afflicted everyone.
A majority of the world hated him for that. It’s why he will eventually end up arrested and beheaded. The world then, like now, often hates the truth. But for Andrew and the other disciple, they knew this preaching was true – it resonated in their hearts and souls and tapped into their deepest of desires. Yes they saw the ugliness of the world, they saw the corruption in their own religion, they saw the messes in their own lives which made them followers of John and wanted it all to change…
So when John points to his cousin Jesus and says “Behold the Lamb of God” that immediately catches their attention in a profound way. Up until then, a “lamb of God” would’ve been a spotless lamb that the Jews sacrificed as an offering to express their need for purification, their obedience, their offering the best they could provide out of love for all God had done and continued to do for His people. It was a way of them remaining connected to God despite all the challenges and difficulties they encountered. Yet on this particular day, in this specific moment, where these two had been focusing on and reflecting on the “need to make some changes” John points to Jesus as the Lamb of God.
So they set off to go follow Him and He turns and asks What are you looking for? Trying to express the deepest unspoken desires, those drives and forces that reverberate in the hearts and souls is hard to sum up in a word, in a single answer. Which is true for each of us. Jesus is asking us that very question with this proclamation- What are you looking for? most likely we find ourselves going through lists of feelings, prayer intentions, questions that we want answered, dreams that we’ve held onto, unexplained set backs or failures that have left us disillusioned or confused. The directness of Jesus’ question leaves us a bit tongue tied.
The disciples answer his question with a question: “Where are you staying” to which He invites them to “Come and you will see…” The heart directs what their minds are still blind to – what they were looking for, the change that they desperately needed – was Him.
Our being here says the same thing. Despite being bombarded by chaotic, divisive voices that distract, manipulate and unnerve us – we recognize none of those things, none of those answers can fulfill what it is we seek. The need for the change we seek won’t be found in the everyday experiences and headlines that are often treated as of greatest urgency. We might feel as clueless as those first disciples but, our hearts draw us to Jesus, the Lamb of God… We have heard his invitation and have come, and we long to see.
What He tells us is we don’t have to allow ourselves be defined by our sins and the lies of the devil who keeps reminding us of them to say “that is who we are” – instead Jesus’ promises us we can trust in His love and mercy… if we stop allowing everyone and everything of this world to distract us and remain focused on Him – then we recognize and realize the true change we desire: from who we are at this moment, to becoming who it is that God calls us to be. Then the truth of what St. Pope John Paul II once said rings true for us:
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.
It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”