Readings (Year B)
Reflection: Images of God
What is your image of God? Jesus, the gentle shepherd? God in those first days of creation? Maybe at different times you pray to different images of God. There are days I sense the Spirit’s presence like the embrace of a lifelong friend and other times I tremble with awe and humility in my prayer! Our readings today offer different images of our Trinitarian God; they highlight three ways we experience God’s sacred presence.
The first reading offers the image of God who calls. God is calling Samuel and it takes him a while to realize what is happening. We are reminded even if we misunderstand, fall back asleep, or pursue a wrong direction, God continues to patiently call.
Our second reading is an image of the Spirit who dwells within. Paul says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit! Even if we turn away or choose sin, he reminds us that the Spirit grounds us.
The Gospel offers the image of Jesus who beckons us to follow. John the Baptist points toward Jesus and says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” His disciples are slow to grasp what that means, but they ask, “Where are you staying?” As Francis Moloney, points out, “It is not enough to claim that Jesus is the Lamb of God . . . the characters in the story need to find out for themselves who he is and what he does.” So, they stay with him and then bring others to follow as well. This Gospel presents the image of Jesus who beckons us to follow and be transformed.
These readings are an invitation to begin anew in relating to God. Even if it takes time to recognize God’s voice, or we turn away in sin, or fail to think big enough about all God can be in the world, we are invited to relate to God who calls us to great things, the Spirit who dwells within, and Jesus Christ who invites us to transformation.
These images of God might be tough to grasp right now with all that happened this past year. Yet, we stand at the beginning of a new year and we can’t go back to the way things were.
Perhaps we are being asked to listen for God’s call in the voices of those calling for justice in our streets.
Or, As Rabbi Heshel said about walking across the Edmund Pettis bridge with Dr. Martin Luther King (“I was praying with my legs”), perhaps our faith demands that we search the reserves of the Spirit’s wisdom that lies within and shape our actions into prayers of Good News.
Perhaps we are being asked to figure out who Jesus is. Don’t limit yourself to another’s interpretation of him. Read his stories. Remember how he treated the outcast. Figure out who he is for you and let yourself be transformed!
Our readings offer three perspectives on our Trinitarian God; May you, this year, begin anew with the God who calls, the Spirit who dwells within, and Jesus Christ who beckons you close.
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