Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The First Book of Samuel is the source of the first reading for this weekend. Originally, First and Second Samuel were one volume. At some point in history, an editor divided them into the two volumes, and so two volumes appear in Bible translations today.
As the title of these books implies, the central figure is Samuel, a prophet active centuries before Christ.
Prophets were highly revered throughout the history of the chosen people. They were regarded as being God’s special representatives, but, also, they personally were very holy and devoted to God. At times, prophets resisted their calling initially. Such was the case of the great prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah. After all was said and done, they accommodated themselves to God’s will and accepted the call to be prophets.
These figures were admired because the call to be a prophet was seen precisely as a call, as a summons, as a commission from God, and an empowerment and emboldening.
In this weekend’s reading, God calls Samuel. It occurs according to God’s plan. Samuel is open to hearing God, indeed ready to hear God, but Samuel cannot hurry the divine plan.
St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians supplies the second reading for this weekend. Many of the Pauline writings are lustrous in their clear revelation of the bond between true believers and Jesus. Jesus was the Son of God, but also human, in a mystery that theologians call the incarnation. The incarnation is a great, fundamental and essential fact of Christian belief.
In this belief, committed Christians, in faith and baptism, are inseparably bound to Jesus, both in a shared human nature, but also in the divine life given believers by Christ.
This supernatural bond, the very keystone of personal salvation, requires Christians not only to be spiritually faithful but faithful in every sense of their lives. They must reject carnal sin.
Stressing this point to the Christian Corinthians seems for some to be excessive for Paul, but it should be remembered, Corinth was known near and far as a virtual capital of lewdness and vice.
St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a story about the decision to follow Jesus by Simon, later known as Peter, and Simon’s brother, Andrew. In the story, Jesus intrigues Andrew and Simon. The brothers recognize Jesus as Messiah. They thirst for salvation with its peace and promise. Jesus calls them, and they follow.
To indicate their new lives, Jesus gives Simon a new name, Cephas, that is often translated as Peter.
The Church, in the majesty and glory of its liturgy, called us all to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, revealing to us that Jesus was the son of Mary, therefore a human, as she was only human despite her unique holiness and singular place in the divine plan of redemption.
Two weeks later, it celebrated the feast of the Epiphany, revealing to us the fact that Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was divine, the Son of God, and that redemption is God’s gift for all people.
Then, the Church brought us to the Baptism of the Lord. He is our Savior, rescuing us from our sin. So the Church, with the greatest joy and hope, has introduced us to the Lord.
Each time, the Church tells us that we are called as Samuel and the Apostles were called. We are being touched by God’s grace.
The Church now urges us, hearing these readings and celebrating these feasts, to respond, asking ourselves what does Christ truly mean to each of us?
How should we react to the Lord? St. Paul gives very concrete advice. Samuel, Peter and Andrew are examples. We must willingly follow Christ in every way.
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