The first words spoken by Jesus in St John’s Gospel are “What do you want?” This simple question is one which we are called to answer. It is a question we have probably been asked by lots of people, lots of times. But when it is Jesus asking we really need to think carefully about how we reply. Our answer doesn’t only need to be in what we say, or write down, but in what our answer inspires us to do.

At the time, John’s disciples; including, as we heard Andrew; just wanted to know where Jesus lived? They wanted to get to know more about this Jesus, who John the Baptist had called the lamb of God. Jesus had a simple reply, “Come and see”. This reply is for all of us too. Jesus calls us all forward to come and see. Jesus is calling us into an intimate relationship with him. He already knows us, he knows everything about us, but he wants us to know everything about him, too.

Jesus knows that when we come and see then we will like what we see and become followers. Being a follower of Jesus is not all doom and gloom. Being a follower of Jesus is life giving, it is the only place where true joy can be found. Of course, it is not without its challenges; as we know, Christians continue to be persecuted in the present day; this said, all other joys are temporary, being one with Jesus and following him completely brings complete joy, a joy that never ends.

Back in 2009, Pam [my wife] and I were asked to take on a leadership role with Marriage Encounter; we received a phone call whilst we were in the car with our son. We knew that our son was not always happy about the time we spent on Marriage Encounter work, and we also knew that he needed us as he was still a teenager at that time. To our surprise, he immediately said we should say yes, Following this up with “your community are calling you.”

But we knew we had to discern. The previous leaders had given us a scripture reading to look at for while we were discerning, that reading was about trusting and being prepared to step out of the boat. We decided we would also look at the readings of the day to help us discern. When we saw the psalm, it was the same psalm used today. “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.” For those that don’t know Marriage Encounter is an organisation, started within the Catholic Church with the aim of promoting and enriching the Sacraments of Marriage and Holy Orders, we were already presenting weekends and fulfilling regional leadership roles, but were now being asked to take on the National role, a role which came with much responsibility and lots of time commitments. Initially we didn’t think we had either the time or capacity to do the role. Having read the readings, the psalm spoke to both us. “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

Having discerned to accept the role, most of our hurdles, while they didn’t disappear, became easier to overcome. We put plans in place for looking after our teenage children for the times we would be away. Pressures from work seemed to become less and we both found our employers and work colleagues were extremely co-operative with the role. This is when we heard that ‘God does not call the equipped, He equips the called.’

In the Gospel reading we hear towards the end about the calling of Peter. We know that Peter would eventually be given the keys of the Kingdom. Does anyone think that Peter was able to carry that burden when he first met Jesus? No way would he have been ready, and I would guess that when Jesus said to Peter that he would have the authority on earth to lead God’s people, that Peter did not think that he was either worthy or capable at that time. We are enabled or equipped to do God’s work through the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit. When we try to do things under our own power it is far more difficult. But when we ask God in prayer to help us, He sends his Spirit, His advocate to help us. Jesus did not desert us when he Ascended into Heaven, He sent his Holy Spirit to be with us, we are never alone. We need to trust in God, trust that his Holy Spirit; who we received in Baptism and again in Confirmation; is with us and he gives us the gifts and charisms to do His work.

Today has been designated by the Holy Father as a day to pray for peace. In his message for today, Pope Francis is examining the influence of modern technology on peace in the world, in particular he is looking at artificial intelligence. The link in the St Bede’s Newsletter is well worth a read. We may read that and find it very interesting and think that is for governments and big business to concern themselves with, and Pope Francis does aim some of his message at them. However, we all live in the same world, and just as we can all contribute to destructive things we can also contribute to things which make the world better.

If we can find a way of having peace in our own hearts then that can help us to have peace in our household, we can then take that peace; which for us comes from Christ; out into the world. We all know someone who needs peace in their life, as we pray for peace during our Mass or in our own personal prayers later, bring their face into your mind, concentrate on that image and pray that God brings peace into their life. If you don’t know anyone personally who could really appreciate that prayer at this moment then maybe God is calling you to go bigger, pray for peace in a certain town, or city or country.

Remember, God created this world, and he created us. He asked mankind to look after this world, and His Son asked us to love God and our neighbour. Praying for other people is an act of mercy, it is a way for us to show our love, it is a way for us to show we care.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

CCC 462, 516, 2568, 2824: the Father’s will fulfilled in Christ
CCC 543-546: to welcome the Kingdom, welcome the Word of God
CCC 873-874: Christ the source of Christian vocation
CCC 364, 1004: the dignity of the body
CCC 1656, 2226: helping children discover their vocation

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
  • All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
  • Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Those discerning a vocation and those considering coming into the Catholic Church.
  • The innocent people caught up in wars and conflicts around the world, but especially those in Palestine, Israel, Ukraine and Russia.
  • Those on pilgrimage or those planning a pilgrimage at this time.
  • For the families due to attend their 1st Baptism preparation session On Sunday at St Bede’s.
  • For those individuals and countries who do not experience peace; may they come to know God in their hearts.