He said to them “Come and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying
and they stayed with him that day. (John 1:39)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our first reading from the book of Samuel gives us the beautiful story of the persistent call of the Lord to Samuel. Samuel, with open ears, hears the call but does not understand it’s source or reason. He questions and eventually is told to “relax” (paraphrasing) and listen, to sit and acknowledge the wonderful voice, and to be open to that voice. Samuel will become a strong voice of the Lord for the people. In our Gospel, John the Baptist is a voice pointing out the Lamb of God. Two of his disciples hear this voice and follow Jesus. They stay with him, listen to him, and eventually will tell others about him. They become, especially after the resurrection, a strong voice of the Gospel for all nations.

Through the spreading of the Gospel there have been many strong voices that have encouraged growth and witness to the salvation that is offered to everyone. Many we consider saints, but the majority are ordinary men and women who have listened to the voice of the Lord and simply and profoundly witnessed to it in everyday life. These Christians, including you, are the backbone of the continued spread of the faith. You and I are persistently called to be part of this group. The gentle prompts of the Holy Spirit call us to stay with Jesus, to share what we learn, and to extend an invitation to others to do the same. 

How do we do this? When do we do this? Can we do this? These are very important questions to reflect upon, and only through listening can they be answered. Taking time to listen is not always easy in a crazy world where we want answers here and now. However, we know God’s time is not according to our time. Listening to God’s promptings takes the willingness to devote the energy to do so and an openness to be challenged. There are many resources to help us with our listening skills. I received this quote: “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” (Etty Hillesum) This reminds me that throughout the day it is important to stop and breathe in deeply the presence of God and listen.

Throughout these winter days I find myself searching for something to engage with that supports my spiritual life. Not being an avid reader, I find myself looking for programs on the T.V. or computer. I was reminded a week ago of our subscription to FORMED, an internet-based program that offers a variety of resources to learn, grow, and appreciate our Catholic faith. I have renewed our subscription to FORMED. This is free to all parishioners, and if you have not logged in recently, this is a good reminder to check it out. If you are not on FORMED, visit the parish website  to learn about signing up and to see what is available. There is material for all ages.  You can visit our parish on FORMED directly at http://stclement-stjames.formed.org.

My cancer treatments continue to move along. I have received three phase 2 chemotherapy treatments so far and reacting relatively well. The only unique side effect I’ve experienced is having cold sensitivity in my throat and hands. I never thought that cracking eggs could cause so much pain! Learning in progress.

Let us continue to pray for one another and for the most vulnerable among us. Let us remember each day to stop, breathe, and listen. And let the promptings of the Holy Spirit strengthen our resolve to support each other as we fight together through this pandemic.

Peace of Christ!

Fr. Workman