"Come and see; we have found the Messiah!"
Sunday Homily for January 18, 2009
Second Sunday in Ordinary time (2B)
By Father Cusick
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
St. John the Baptist, the first to preach Christ, the last and greatest of the prophets, could not contain himself and cried out "Behold, the Lamb of God!" to the two disciples with whom he stood. (John 1:35, RSV CE) Truly filled with the Holy Spirit, St. John overflows with the divine love in which he shares, a love which seeks ever to pour itself out and embrace every soul. He cannot help but shout aloud the fantastic news of salvation in Christ, the perfect paschal Lamb who will offer himself in the perfect sacrifice of the Cross.
The two disciples, having heard the Word proclaimed, are capable in faith of recognizing the Lord as "Rabbi", teacher, with the humility of authentic discipleship. They follow the Lord, as he invites them to "come and see" the place where he stays.
One of these two among the first disciples was St. Andrew. He too, filled with the Holy Spirit and unable to keep the news of the Messiah to himself, "first found his brother Simon, and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus." (John 1:41-42). The missionary impulse, the desire to proclaim Christ with burning charity for the salvation of others which we see in Saints John and Andrew, is at the core of the Christian message, and has been present from the beginning.
In recent remarks the Holy Father spoke of the missionary impulse of authentic faith, seeking to spread itself, and of the work of the Church for the Jubilee Year 2000. Evangelization, he said, is the normal way in which the Church makes the light of Christ visible to the world. This light - "of love, of truth, of beauty" - cannot be imposed by force but must "illumine the spirit and attract the heart". Evangelization flows from the Eucharist which is the center and the nourishment of the Church's missionary activity. The Holy Father speaks of the supernatural desire of those who love Christ to preach the Gospel and to lead others to meet Christ in the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist.
The Church teaches that the faithful cannot be silenced, that the impulse to spread the Gospel, to proclaim Christ as Messiah, is not an option, but rather an obligation. The Church is not "catholic", not universal, if the Church is not also missionary. " 'Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men': 'Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and Lo, I am with you always, until the close of the age.' (Matthew 28:19-20) " (CCC 849) Christ has commanded that the Church grow to embrace all peoples, languages and cultures. God's love is satisfied only by reaching out to every single human being.
There are some Christians who have the odd idea that it is somehow an imposition upon others to speak of one's faith in public places, in schools, at work, in the marketplace. The truth is quite the opposite. From the beginning authentic Christians did not hesitate to proclaim Christ as Lord in word and action. The host of martyrs who have the illuminated the way for the Church for nearly two millennia witness to this by their blood. You and I are not Christians in the authentic, wholehearted, sense unless we receive from Christ the fire of His love which cannot be stamped out, and which seeks to spread itself and to consume other souls in a conflagration which will light the way to salvation for all the world.
Let the Church's preparation for the two thousandth anniversary of the Incarnation be the opportunity to discover and practice a love which is an undeniable sign of and sharing in God's own love. Preach, teach and live Christ. Do not keep the Messiah a secret. If you truly have his love, you will speak of him. You will not be able to keep silent.
"Come and see; we have found the Messiah!"