2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time: Year B.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“How Did We Come To Know Christ?”
Sometimes we may be tempted to look at our lives and say, “What’s the point?” We are busy, yes, but seem to be going nowhere, a least seemingly nowhere worthwhile. Our lives are not pointless; others need us, and they profit from our experience. More importantly God has his eyes on us. We are part of his dream for humanity. This truth is made clear in today’s readings.
In the first reading we are told that God tries to meet his people, calls them by name, and makes his voice heard.
The second reading tells us of the happy consequences of meeting Christ: a completely new life, a radical change in our way of thinking and acting.
The Gospel tells us that we are all invited to meet Christ. Christ has the words of eternal life, and many can meet him only if somebody tells them about him.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible.
These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings.
These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings.
‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“Ignorance of the Scriptures is ‘Ignorance of Christ’.”
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19.
Today’s first reading from the Book of Samuel is in harmony with the Gospel reading from the first chapter of John in that both readings are concerned with vocations. They are about God calling people to help carry out his plans for his people.
Samuel was a very important person in the Old Testament. He had been born to a woman, called Hannah, who had previously been unable to bear children. She and her husband visited the shrine at Shiloh where the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ was kept, and Hannah prayed for a child. She promised that, if she bore a child, she would give the child exclusively to the Lord. She did conceive, and as soon as it was possible to separate the child and mother, Hannah turned the child, the young Samuel over to Eli, the priest of the shrine.
Eli would raise Samuel and teach him the ways of the Lord. Today we read about an important event in Samuel’s life: his ‘call’ to be an agent of the Lord. Samuel, who was lying down in the Temple was awakened by someone calling his name. Samuel thought it was Eli who called him. But Eli said it wasn’t. The same voice came to Samuel a second and a third time. By then Eli realized that was God calling. So he told Samuel that when he heard the voice again he was to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”.
Once Samuel became the ‘listening servant’, he never made that mistake again. Listening to God’s voice and attending to the word spoken is what true obedience means. Samuel became a great prophet because he learned how to listen
The reading ends, “As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” Because Samuel was attentive to God’s voice, God remained with him. And because God was with him, people listened to him. He had a great influence on many lives. Once he became the listening servant, Samuel never made that mistake again.
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10.
The Psalm calls for personal knowledge of God and a willing response to his calling. The Psalm also meditates on how we learn to listen to God. The key idea is the discovery that religion is more than a Temple and cult, it is not ritual and rubrics, (bells and smells), that matter to God, but the ability to listen and obey. True believers say, “I come to do your will.” According to Hebrews, Christ himself used these words as he came into the world (Heb. 10:5-7).
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20.
The second reading makes the point that when, like Samuel, we hear the voice of God, our entire self, body and soul, is to be at God’s service. The Greeks of Corinth were still very new to Christianity, and had a thing about sex; some of them thought that perhaps they could do what they liked, while others thought that sex was so dangerous that they should not touch it at all. The Corinthians did not see the importance of the body. It was only a passing reality, or so they thought.
Notice how Paul always brings people back to Jesus and his Resurrection, and to God who raised Jesus from the dead. ‘Your bodies are Christ’s limbs, so steer clear of fornication. Your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit among you; therefore glorify God in your body. Sexuality is not intended to satisfy the selfish desires of men and women, but should be a true manifestation of ‘love and self-giving’. Only these sentiments are in harmony with the life of a Christian.
The Gospel of today recounts the call of the first disciples of Jesus. Each Evangelist has his way of recounting the same event according to the needs of the communities for whom he is writing. They were not interested in presenting a detailed historical account of what actually happened. They were writing after they had experienced the risen Jesus after Easter and want to help their communities understand the deeper meaning of the events of his life.
In John’s Gospel the first words ascribed to Jesus are a question: ‘What do you want?’ In the prologue John has already told us of the divine origin of Jesus. Now he introduces Jesus on the stage of life. Jesus has come down to help us. He asks us what do we want? How will we answer him? What do we want for others, for the parish, for the country and for the Church? Many of us have no problem in asking on behalf of others but are slow to ask anything for ourselves.
What is striking in the manner in which John recounts the call of the first disciples is the way they come to Jesus. Some like Philip are called directly by Jesus but then there are others who are brought to Jesus by their relatives and friends who have met Jesus. Jesus had touched their hearts so much, that they had to tell their friends about him and insist that they too go and meet him.
People go in search of Jesus when their hearts are dissatisfied with the life they are leading, and they want to find a different answer to their problems and to their yearning for happiness. Many begin to seek Christ when idols such as money, sex, and power have disappointed them. Let us ask ourselves: what was I looking for when I became a Christian? What attracted me to Christ?
The true follower of Jesus does not attract people to himself or herself but to Jesus. One usually comes to know Christ through an intermediary. The two disciples come to see him as the Master and the Messiah because the Baptist has shown him to them as the “Lamb of God”; his brother Andrew leads Peter to Jesus; Nathaniel finds him because Philip spoke to him about Jesus and Simon through Andrew. Sometimes, as with Philip (and Samuel), the call can be direct.
It is difficult to keep to ourselves something that moves us deeply. We have to tell others about it. “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks” (Lk. 6:45). Are we touched by the person of Jesus that we wish others to know him too? Whoever discovers Jesus and comes to realize that he has the words of hope and salvation for all cannot keep such beautiful news just for themselves; they feel the urge to proclaim it to others, so that all may come to meet the One who can provide answers to all their questions in life
Why then should we find it so difficult to speak of Christ? Why do we at times feel almost embarrassed of being his disciples and try and hide the fact? Have we really met him and stayed with him or has it been a very superficial and brief encounter? The second sentence that Jesus speaks in today’s Gospel is his invitation, “Come and see.”
Do you know what you want in life? Do you have clear targets? Do you know where your life is going? Who sets your values? Whose voice leads you? The Lord invites us to come to him. Come to where he lives. Come to sit at his feet pondering his word.
If God had not called us, we would not exist, we would not be members of a community of faith, and we would not have any purpose to our lives. And it’s not just to the big things that God calls us. Every little intervention of God in our lives, every blessing that we receive, every danger, great or small that God averts from us is part of God’s calling.
God has plans for each of us, even as God had plans for Samuel and the apostles. It is up to us to be attentive to God’s calling and action in our lives. It is up to us to listen and say “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week to lead us in the ‘Way, the Truth and the Life’:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B, we reflect on …
Sun. … Referring to God’s first call to Samuel, have we ever experienced a thought that someone has called out our name, and not being able to recognize the voice, brushed it aside as a figment of our imagination? Or was it?
Mon. … Listening to God’s voice and attending to the word spoken is what obedience means. Samuel became a great prophet because he learned how to listen. To know God’s voice requires us to get to know Him as a child knows their ‘father’. We need to establish this intimate relationship. When we pray, we speak to Him; when we read the Scriptures and the Gospel, he is speaking to us. If we do this regularly we will begin to know him, his values and standards and his love for all his people. When we truly know Him, we will recognize His voice when he calls our name.
Tues. … Would we be able to recognize the call of God through the mists of confusion in our lives? Let us today ask God for his graces to help us practice the way of obedience so that we will recognize his voice from the many distracting voices in our lives. Recognizing the call of the Lord through this confusion is not easy. But those who practice the way of obedience will recognize God’s voice from any other.
Wed. … The Psalm calls us to a ‘Personal Relationship’ with God and reminds us to be attentive to His voice and to obey His will.
Thurs. … Paul reminds us all that our bodies are the ‘Temples of the Holy Spirit’ and are not intended to satisfy the selfish whims and desires of men and women but should be a true manifestation of love and self-giving. As in the first reading and in the Psalm our obedience to God’s wishes will save us and not by listening to the many voices around us calling for our submission to the ways of the world.
Frid. … Many of us have faithfully followed the rules and rituals of our faith given to us by our parents and the Church. Are we ready to take our faith to the next level? Are we truly excited for being followers of Jesus? Has he touched our hearts to the extent that we wish others to know him? If we really believe that Jesus has the words of hope and salvation, how can we keep such incredible news just for ourselves? Let us today start spreading the ‘Good News’ to all who need it.
Sat. … God has a plan for each one of us and we need to know what our part is in his plan of salvation. When we talk to our “Father” today, let us say, “Father, please speak to me and guide me, for I come to do your will”. Be persistent in prayer and in reading the Scriptures and the Gospel. Stay vigilant; it’s just a matter of time before you will know what God wants you to do.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, grant to us the ability to hear Your call; we pray for the wisdom to recognize Your voice and we ask that You strengthen our resolve to carry out Your plan. We pray that our faith may develop into a personal relationship with You as a child may have with a ‘father’ and as a ‘child of God’ may we always strive to do Your will.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.