13 January 2012

'Come and see'. Sunday Reflections, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

St Andrew, Francois Duquesnoy, 1629-33

This Sunday is observed in the Philippines as the Feast of the Santo Niño or Holy Child. You can find the Sunday Reflections for that feast here. 

Readings (New American Bible: Philippines, USA)

 Gospel John 1:35-42 (Jerusalem Bible: Australia, England & Wales, India [optional], Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Scotland, South Africa)

As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus. Jesus turned round, saw them following and said, ‘What do you want?’ They answered, ‘Rabbi,’ – which means Teacher – ‘where do you live?’ ‘Come and see’ he replied; so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day. It was about the tenth hour.

One of these two who became followers of Jesus after hearing what John had said was Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter. Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.

An Soiscéal Eoin 1;35-42 (Gaeilge, Irish)

San am sin bhí Eoin ina sheasamh ansiúd agus beirt dá dheisceabail. Agus ag stánadh dó ar Íosa ag gabháil thart dúirt sé: “Seo é Uan Dé.” Chuala an bheirt deisceabal é ag rá na cainte agus lean rin Íosa. D’iompaigh Íosa, chonaic iad á leanúint agus dúirt sé leo: “Cad tá uaibh?” D’fhreagair rin é: “A raibí” – is é sin le rá “a mháistir” – “Cá bhfuil cónaí ort?” “Tagaigí agus feicigí,” ar sé leo. Tháinig rin dá bhrí sin agus chonaic rin cá raibh cónaí air, agus d’fhan rin fairis an lá sin. Bhí sé timpeall an deichiú huair.

Duine den bheirt a chuala Eoin agus a lean Íosa a ba ea Aindrias, deartháir Shíomóin Peadar. Fuair seisean ar dtús a dheartháir féin Síomón agus dúirt sé leis: “Fuaireamar an Meisias” – is é sín le rá an tUngthach. Thug sé leis é chun Íosa. D’fhéach Íosa go rin air agus dúirt: “Is tú Síomón mac Eoin. Tabharfar ort Céafas” – focal a chiallaíonn Carraig.


God’s call can come in the most unexpected ways. One of my Irish Columban confreres, Fr Bobby Gilmore, has written about discovering his call to be a missionary priest by the visit of a famous Welsh rugby player, Cliff Morgan, to his boarding school in the 1950s, St Joseph’s, Garbally Park, Ballinasloe, County Galway, owned by the Diocese of Clonfert. Rugby was the main sport in Garbally Park and the young Bobby’s passion. The school invited Cliff Morgan to speak to the students. Afterwards there was a question and answer session. Someone asked the guest what his priorities in life were. To the utter astonishment of Bobby, rugby was only the third or fourth priority of the great player. This led him to question his own priorities and led to his becoming a Columban priest.

Late in 2000 I did a mission appeal for the Columbans in the place where Cliff Morgan was born and where he is still a legend. Unfortunately, I didn’t know Father Bobby’s vocation story at the time. He spent many eyars in Mindanao and Camiguin in the Philippines before going to Jamaica. He later worked with Irish immigrants in England. He is now based in Ireland and is President and one of the founders of Migrants Rights Centre Ireland. MRCI was st up in 2000.

Trebanog, south Wales, where Cliff Morgan was born in 1930. I celebrated Sunday Mass in a school there late in 2000 while doing a mission appeal for the Columbans. The parish church is in a larger town.

In a talk he gave in August 2009 in Arizona to a convention of the Knights of Columbus Cardinal-designate Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York (above) spoke of four practical challenges the Church currently faces in preaching the Gospel to all people, the first being the instability of marriage and family.

‘That’s where we have the real vocation crisis,’ he remarked, noting that ‘only 50% of our Catholic young people are getting married. We have a vocation crisis to life-long, life-giving, loving, faithful marriage. If we take care of that one, we’ll have all the priests and nuns we need for the church,’ he said.

Last year the Central Statistics Office in the Republic of Ireland reported that nearly half of first tie births take place outside of marriage, 28 per cent of births of a second child and 22 per cent of births of a third child.

God may indeed call a child from that background to the priesthood, to religious life, to the sacrament of marriage but the chances of that child discovering his or her call from God is surely greatly reduced, since that child most likely has little or no faith context.

When the late Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston was ordained bishop he proudly showed his episcopal ring to his widowed Irish mother, She pointed at her wedding ring and said to him, ‘If it wasn’t for this, you wouldn’t be wearing that’.

This video of a march in Dublin on 17 December is from the website of MRCI. These are working people who want to play a full part in Irish society. The Irish government is trying to get the government of the USA to regularise Irish people there who are in a similar position. Eleven days before the march Dublin City Council unanimously passed this resolution:

This Council supports the undocumented Irish campaign in the US to introduce an earned regularisation scheme. This Council also notes with concern the high numbers of undocumented families and children living in Ireland without rights and under tremendous stress and fear. This Council supports the introduction of an earned regularisation scheme in Ireland, based on criteria set down by the Department of Justice, so that undocumented migrants living in Ireland can participate fully in the social, political and economic affairs of the country. This Council asks that the Minister for Justice be written to upon the passing of this motion to inform him of Dublin City Council's support for an earned regularisation scheme.

If the rugby-mad Bobby Gilmore had not been so astonished by the priorities in life of a young Welsh rugby player 55 or so years ago perhaps he would never have worked as a priest in the Philippines, Jamaica and England and would not now be involved in enabling immigrants to his native Ireland to be truly at home there.

God's call can indeed come in unexpected ways. Had St Andrew not listened to the words of St John the Baptist, accepted the invitation of Jesus to 'come and see', he probably would have spent the rest of his life catching fish instead of 'catching men' with the Gospel in a country not his own and dying on a cross as Jesus did. 

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