SUNDAY READINGS REFLECTIONS
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Cycle B) – January 14, 2018
This Sunday’s Theme: God’s Call and Our Response
Reading 1 and the Gospel focus on a central theme in Scripture, namely, God’s call and our response. Also, in both of these readings, people are being introduced to God and Jesus. They have a personal experience or encounter with God or Jesus. In Reading 2, Paul reminds the Corinthians that because their lives belong to Christ through baptism, their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and should not be used to engage in immorality. By not engaging in immorality, the Holy Spirit will remain within us and help us to hear, understand, and respond properly to God’s call and our response.
Prayer – Let us pray that all priests and religious may be an example and an encouragement to all of us to accept God’s call and gifts of the Holy Spirit and to transmit to others the fruits of love and peace, to give them that certainty of faith from which derive the profound understanding of meaning of human existence and the capacity to introduce moral order into the life of individuals and of the human setting. (St. John Paul II)
“The growing knowledge of and the love of Christ, above all,
prepares us to follow His call.” (St. Ignatius)
“It is not riches, but doing the will of God, that makes the heart happy”
(Blessed Eurosia Fabris)
Reading 1 – 1 Samuel 3:3b–10,19 The Lord calls Samuel.
Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 40:2, 4, 7–10 A prayer of commitment to follow the will of the Lord.
Reading 2 – 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a,17–20 Paul reminds the Corinthians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.
Gospel – John 1:35–42 John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the Lamb of God, and Jesus receives His first followers.
(This Bible Study’s primary references used are from St Joseph Sunday Missal (Themes), Loyola Press, CatholicCulture.org, Ascension Catholic Church Sunday Reflections, USCCB, Understanding the Scriptures by Scott Hahn, St Thomas Aquinas’ Works, RSV Oxford Annotated Bible, Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, St Charles Borromeo Bible Studies, LUMINA Bible Study, The Franciscans St. Anthony’s Guild, and Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary.)
NOTE: To gain clarity of understanding in all of the following scriptural passages that have many inline footnotes, first read only the purple colored scriptural words in the passage. Then re-read the passage along with the green colored inline footnotes.
Reading 1 1 Samuel 3:3b–10,19 (Answering God’s Call)
Context – God writes lessons for us not only in words but also by events. Among these events, one of the most prominent is the dependence of a nation’s happiness on its leaders’ personal holiness. First and Second Samuel contrasts the personalities and events in the lives of the early Israeli leaders – Eli, Samuel, Saul, and David.
1 Samuel begins by telling how the prophet Samuel is chosen by Yahweh, the God of the Israelites, at his birth. The story of the Ark of the Covenant which follows tells of Israel’s oppression by the Philistines, which brings about Samuel’s anointing of Saul as Israel’s first king. But Saul proves unworthy and God then has Samuel choose David instead, who defeats Israel’s enemies and brings the Ark to Jerusalem. God then promises David and his successors an eternal dynasty.
Today’s Reading – Today’s Old Testament reading recounts the call of the ancient prophet-priest Samuel who was considered the most important religious figure since Moses in his day. This reading’s episode is about a disciple’s need, to learn how to listen for and how to listen to, the calling, engagement, and spiritual encouragement by God. Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many others also had to learn these lessons. In practical terms, one has to cultivate a genuinely human sensitivity and openness to “hearing” the Divine message precisely in order to be holy. Being too busy, too distracted, or too focused on values other than the Gospel’s, generally impede human perceptive abilities.
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. (He is 12 years old at this time. The same age as Jesus when He discoursed in the temple in Jerusalem.) The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” (Eli is the high priest.) “I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. (He had not before had any knowledge of the manner in which God revealed His will to someone.) The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed His presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (The Lord’s repetition of Samuel’s name added a note of urgency to Samuel’s “calling”.)
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of His to be without effect. (He was justly regarded as a true prophet. )
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. There are six dimensions to the “call-response” dynamic in Reading 1. First, Samuel does not recognize God’s “call”, which illustrates the fact that “calls” from God are not always immediately discernible. Second, the repetitiveness of God’s calling assures us that God does not easily quit on us. He keeps calling. Third, the setting of God’s “call” to Samuel (at night while he slept in the temple sacristy) reminds us that God’s “call” to us can come at any time or place or during any human activity. Fourth, the fact that Samuel resorts to his mentor Eli for help suggests that we often may need help from other experienced pilgrims (Priests, Spiritual Directors, religious people) to discern God’s “call”. Fifth, the description of Samuel’s growing to maturity in the presence of God, after his “calling”, underscores the power of grace to sustain whoever responds to God’s “call”. Sixth, the effectiveness of Samuel’s ministry (whereby the Lord did not allow any word of Samuel’s to be without effect [v.19]) reassures those “called” that active cooperation with God can yield astounding results.
Responsorial Psalm. Psalm 40:2, 4, 7–10 (Doing Gods’ Will)
Today’s Psalm – The response of the true disciple to God’s “call” is an unqualified acceptance of God’s will: “Here I am, Lord. I come to do Your will.”
R. – Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD, and He stooped toward me and heard my cry (“Please Lord, show me Your will for me.”). And He put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God (a new song – “Thank You my Lord for helping me know Your will for me.”).
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.
Sacrifice or offering You wished not, but ears open to obedience You gave me. Holocausts or sin-offerings You sought not; then said I, “Behold I come.” (i.e. – I agree to be obedient to You.)
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do Your will, O my God, is my delight, and Your law is within my heart!” (David is saying the Law was in his heart, not just in his hands. He delighted to do God’s will rather than just doing it out of obligation.)
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.
I announced Your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as You, O LORD, know. (Part of God’s will for David, as a person and as Israel’s king, was that he should praise the Lord. The psalmist said he carried out this duty joyfully. He spoke publicly of God’s righteousness, faithfulness, salvation, loyal love, and truth.)
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. ”Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.” – This was stated by the psalmist David and it sounds like Samuel’s comments to the Lord, in Reading 1. More importantly though – does it sound like you? We all need a period of quiet time with the Lord to allow Him to speak and tell us His will for us. After our Baptism, the Holy Spirit resides within us and helps us to be a Christian, including helping us pray to the Lord and helping to understand His will for us. The Bible tells us to “pray in the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:15, Eph. 6:18, Jude 20). Always begin praying by first asking the Holy Spirit to please come and give help and direction to hear His “call” and respond properly.
Reading 2. 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a,17–20 (The Spirit in Us)
Context – Corinth was the meeting point of many nationalities because the main current of the trade between Asia and western Europe passed through its harbors. Paul started the Church at Corinth in 51 AD and stayed there only briefly to get things started. Five years after he left, he composed and sent this Letter to Corinth just prior to his second arrival there. Over those five years trouble arose in the Church including: internal divisions, immorality, denials of the Resurrection, and liturgical carelessness. His pastoral guidance aimed to restore peace and unity by fortifying their commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul’s first Letter to the Corinthians takes aim throughout at two vices that underlie the Corinthians’ struggles: pride and selfishness.
Today’s Reading – The Corinthian text of today’s reading uses the image of the human body as a metaphor for the whole disciple. While the words describe physical reality, the metaphor is not so simplistic or superficial as to mean mere physical, mortal, sexuality. Rather, here “the body” means the entire person of the disciple, including the intellect, the individual’s integrity, and the spiritual wholeness of each of us. The body is, indeed, a “temple” of God’s Holy Spirit as the Jerusalem Temple had been the location of God’s Presence in the Old Testament and even in St. Paul’s lifetime. So, the letter’s author points out that the Holy Spirit of God dwells there in each disciple, an insight which ought to be humbling and motivating.
Brothers and sisters: The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord (Our body is for the Lord – At our Baptism, the Lord allows the Holy Spirit to reside within us, thus making our body as a holy temple for Him, so we should never let our body also become desecrated by evildoing. The Holy Spirit will not reside in the same place as the devil.), and the Lord is for the body (the Lord created us for His purpose); God raised the Lord (resurrection of Jesus) and will also raise us by His power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? (We are Baptized into the mystical body of Christ – His Church.) But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with Him. Avoid immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price (Christ purchased us, the price being His crucifixion, and He now owns us.). Therefore glorify God in your body. (Sexual immorality is wrong, Paul concluded, because it involves sinning against one’s body, which in the case of believers belongs to the Lord through His divine purchase.)
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you. Jesus says to His disciples: the Holy Spirit, “He will guide you to all truth” (Jn. 16:13).
Gospel John 1:35–42 (Encountering Christ)
Context – John’s Gospel was written around 90 AD. His Gospel has an evangelistic purpose – preaching about Christ for conversion to Him. John explains the mystery of the person of Jesus – His eternal origin, divine and human nature. He is eternally present with God. So much of this Gospel is devoted to the heavenly identity and mission of Jesus that John was known as the “spiritual” Gospel in the ancient Church. The “divine family” of God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the towering mystery of the Fourth Gospel.
Today’s Reading – In Reading 1, we heard of Samuel’s call to serve God. In this Gospel reading, we hear of the calling of the first of Jesus’ disciples.
After John the Baptist baptized Jesus, he referred to Him as the Lamb of God. This term alludes to the paschal (Easter) lamb offered as a sacrifice when God freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (i.e. the lamb whose blood was painted on the Hebrew door posts providing safety from death by causing the pass over of their home.). This event is commemorated still today by the Jewish Passover celebration.
John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Messiah (as prophesized in the OT), after which some of his disciples (one named Andrew) followed after Jesus. Andrew then brings his brother, Simon, to Jesus. Immediately, Jesus gave Simon a new name, calling him Peter. Jews normally sought out rabbis and established themselves as disciples of a particular rabbi. Jesus appears to have been unique in that He sought out individuals, inviting them to be His followers.
John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following Him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”
They said to Him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are You staying?”
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. (Yet they did not continually remain with Him, as His disciples, till He called them, as they were fishing.) It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —. (Messiah in Hebrew means “Anointed One”, in Greek means “Christ”) Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter. (Cephas in Aramaic is translated Peter in Greek, and means rock. Changing Simon’s name to something meaning “rock” did by the word itself aptly signify, that on him, as on a rock most firm, Jesus would build His Church. – St. Cyril)
PAUSE and reflect on how the above speaks to you.
Catechism 1137 – The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church’s liturgy, first reveals to us, “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne”: “the Lord God.” It then shows the Lamb, “standing, as though it had been slain”: Christ crucified and risen, the one High Priest of the true sanctuary, the same One “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.” Finally it presents “the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.