2nd Sunday of Ordinary time, year B 2018:
Last Sunday we celebrated the Epiphany, where the magi came and worshiped Jesus. And now we are back to ordinary time. So, just like that, our Christmas season is over, and we are back to green vestments and ordinary time. But, ordinary time doesn’t mean “bad” or “plain.” Technically it comes from the word “ordinal” meaning numbered. There are 34 Sundays of Ordinary time. These Sundays fill in the gaps between the special seasons of Advent/Christmas and Lent/Easter. The focus of the gospels during Ordinary Time is the life and ministry of Jesus. Therefore, I think the liturgical year teaches us an important lesson about our own life. Sure, there are great high points in our lives, just like Christmas and Easter are high points in our liturgical life. But, I think it’s ordinary time where we really grow in our faith. In some ways, it’s easy to be a Christian on Christmas, but what about the second Sunday of ordinary time? We should really see these “Green Sundays” as “Growth Sundays.” If we do, Ordinary time will be anything but ordinary.
I really love today’s gospel reading. It’s the vocation story of the apostles. This is the story that tells us exactly how it was that the apostles heard the call to follow Jesus. Andrew was guided by John the Baptist. He met Jesus and spent time with him. He was motivated to tell Peter: we have found the Christ. There’s an interesting power in vocation stories.
I didn’t know this early on, but when you are a seminarian, a person studying to be a priest, people oftentimes want to hear your vocation story. I remember my first Christmas as a seminarian I was at a lunch sponsored by the Serra club. It was a lunch for all the seminarians and their parents, along with many priests and with Bishop D’Arcy. Since I had only been a seminarian for a few months, I felt sort of intimidated by a room full of priests, seminarians, and especially Bishop D’Arcy, who I greatly respected. So, I was definitely trying to keep my head down and just stay under the radar. Now, at every one of these lunches, Bishop D’Arcy would always get up to “say a few words.” So, bishop started talking about vocations and he started talking about Pope John Paul II. He said that JP2 had a great impact on vocations throughout the world. “In fact,” he said, “our new seminarian, Jake Runyon, was influenced by JP2. Jake, why don’t you stand up and tell everyone all about your vocation story?” I was so embarrassed. Gee, thanks a lot bishop. So, I told my vocation story. The very first time I ever thought about being a priest was when I was in Denver in 1994 for World Youth Day. I remember seeing priests from all over the world. I was impressed that they came in every shape and size. I thought: maybe that’s what I’m supposed to do. There’s more to my vocation story of course, but we don’t want to be here all day. I sat down after telling my story, greatly relieved to be out of the spotlight. After lunch, one of the other seminarians said: I’m really glad you are in the seminary. Now, Bishop won’t call on me to talk in front of everyone, he will just use you. I learned from that day on: always be ready to tell your vocation story.
But, I want to turn it around on you: what is your vocation story. When did you realize you were being called by Christ? Was there a moment? If you are married, when did you know he/she was “the one?”
Having a handle on your vocation story is important. If you have never really sketched it out in your own mind, you might really be missing out on the ways you could be meeting Christ. But, faith is also meant to be shared. What would have happened if St. Andrew had never talked to his brother about the faith? We never would have had St. Peter. So, that’s your homework assignment. If bishop D’Arcy were here today and he pointed his finger at you and said: what is your vocation story, what would you say? And, second, share that story with someone. Could be a friend, a spouse, one of your kids. Sometimes our vocation stories can really go a long way towards helping other people grow in their faith.