Remain in Him

1.2.18. Tues. before Epiphany – (II)
1st Rdg  Letter of John  2:  22 – 28
Gospel  John  1:  19 – 28

This is the testimony of John.  When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.”  So they asked him, “What are you then?  Are you Elijah?”  And He said: “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  He answered, “No.”  So they said to him ”Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us?  What do you have to say for yourself?”  He said:

I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.”  Some Pharisees were also sent.  They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?”  John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.”  This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.        The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                            Remain in Him

This was proclaimed in our first reading today from the First Letter of John: “Let what you have heard from the beginning remain in you.” (1 John 2:24)  Over the last couple of days I am sure many of us have thought about our resolutions for the New Year.  This is a traditional practice.  Maybe we want to make our lives better, to live in a more healthy way, commit to deepen our relationships and reconnect with people we haven’t seen in quite a while.  Or we want to make a commitment this year to just be better people.

As we know, often the resolutions we make do not last long; eventually we fall back into our comfortable patterns of life and we continue to live as we always have, nothing much changes.   But perhaps our future lies in our past.

Listen again to what John wrote in his first Letter:  “Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you.” (1 John 2:24)  The word of God that we have listened to and prayed over and shared with others, for most of our lives, might provide an answer to improve our lives in 2018 by going back to the ancient, revealed Word of God.  In the first Letter of John we are encouraged to “remain in Him.” (1 John 2:28)  To remain in the Lord is to strive for intimacy with the most Holy Trinity; the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  It is to be united in dialog, an eternal dialog with God.  If you make the resolution to ‘remain in the Lord’ you will commit yourself to more prayer.  If this was among your resolutions, to pray more this year, you might remain faithful to prayer, well into the future; if you base that commitment, that resolution, on what the Scriptures call us to – “remain in the Lord.”  And the only way you can do this is through prayer.  John the Baptist declared: “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert.” (John 1:23)  If we find ourselves in a spiritual desert, we will continue to persevere in prayer rather than give up, so that we can remain in the Lord.  “What you have heard from the beginning, let it remain in you.”

To “remain in the Lord” is to desire to be in the image and likeness of God; this is what we are created to be, and this would include seeing yourself as a Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and if you want to remain as God’s Temple, then be committed to taking care of the body that God has given to you.  This is a perfect motivation for losing weight; for watching what you eat.  I want to take care of this body, consuming only those things that are good for me.  It is the motivation for getting more exercise; for finally getting around to walking those 10,000 steps a day, or visiting the gym, or swimming more often.

If I want to “remain in the Lord”, perhaps I limit or stop drinking alcohol, nor do I go to the marijuana dispensaries that are now legal in California.  It is a better way to care for this ‘Temple’ that God has given me.  If a healthier physical life is on your list of resolutions, perhaps your desire to be a healthy Temple of the Holy Spirit is just the motivation you need.

To “remain in the Lord” is to make efforts to be a better person so that I can be †Jesus to other people.  Let this be the motivation for a simpler life, ridding yourself of the desire to have all the latest and best of everything.  Perhaps this leads to greater acts of kindness and generosity toward others; placing your trust in God, and His providence, to give you what you really need and not always to have what you want.

Perhaps you want to embrace more humility and meekness in your life.  John the Baptist, of whom †Jesus said: “There is no man born of woman greater than John.”  John declared: “The one who is coming after me, (His) sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27)  If we desire to “remain in the Lord”, put †Jesus first and you will succeed in being more like †Jesus to one another.

As you can see, the secret to New Year’s resolutions is not coming up with new ways to live in 2018.  Rather, it is to remember how the Lord has always called us to live: to “remain in Him”, through prayer, for respecting your body as God’s dwelling place and being present to †Jesus and others.

“Let what you have heard from the beginning remain in you.” (1 John 2:24)

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.