A break-in

There are break-ins and break-ins. When people want change, they try to break into the system and reform it. The break into Congress in the United States on 6 January has horrified America and people around the world.

Frightening as it was, it still showed that dissatisfied people will sometimes take extreme action to express their frustration. It will be an awesome task for Joe Biden to begin the healing of America when he is sworn in as President next Wednesday.

We celebrate another type of break-in as we begin a new year in the scripture readings of the Church. In today’s readings, God breaks into young Samuel’s world and the boy takes time to understand what is going on. Jesus also breaks into the complacent world of some fishermen, a tax man and a bunch of others. He has a big impact for we are told ‘they left everything and followed him’.

Breaking into someone’s life can change everything and the follow-through from Christmas alerts us to the work that is only just beginning. We can dust down the crib and stow it away for another year but it would be good if we could also stow away in our hearts the message that crib contains. Jesus broke into the world in order to bring to perfection the work already begun. For centuries people had felt their way towards the divine but now the divine had come to dwell among them.

This would make all the difference but, like Samuel, people don’t get it – at least not at first. If we can look in the mirror, we realise how contaminated we are. Peter and the others may have been called but the gospel tells us how slow they were to understand. In their faltering steps, we recognise ourselves. We are not converted. We have not allowed God to break into our lives. If we did, we would experience ‘peace flowing like a river’ (Is 66:12). But we don’t and we haven’t. I think of Matthew and the way he seems to have totally surrendered to the break-in. He accepted it and never looked back.

I also think of Franz Jägerstätter who was the only person in his village in Austria to vote against the Anschluss, the proposed union of Austria and Germany, in the plebiscite of 10 April 1938. He was dismayed that many Catholics in his village supported the Nazis, writing, “I believe there could scarcely be a sadder hour for the true Christian faith in our country”. He was eventually arrested, tried and executed by guillotine for refusing to take the oath to Hitler. His last recorded words before his death were, ‘I am completely bound in inner union with the Lord’. It took his fellow Austrians a long time to understand his heroism. Even after the war, he was considered a traitor to his country and a deserter of his family; his wife and three young daughters. His wife lived to see her husband beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007 and she died only in 2013.

Jägerstätter was one of the many through the centuries who allowed the Lord to break into their lives. As we start this difficult year, we may draw courage from him and those like him who welcome this sort of ‘break-in’.

17 January 2021          Sunday 2 B     1 Sam 3:3-10, 19         1 Cor 6:13…20           Jn 1:35-42

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