Sunday, 1/17/2021, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Listen to the Call
First Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel 3b-10, 19
Some people are really good at answering God’s call. But many of us don’t hear God’s call. How can we answer God’s call if we do not hear it? Of course, the answer is that we cannot. But in order to hear God’s call, we have to know how to listen and how to listen in faith.
In today’s first reading, young Samuel was called by God three times, but Samuel thought that it was his father Eli calling. So, after the third call, Eli told Samuel that it was the LORD calling and he told Samuel that when the LORD called again, to answer, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
Prayer, in whatever form, is having a conversation with God. When we pray, we want and we even expect God to listen to our petitions. But sometimes, God initiates prayer by speaking to us and sadly, we do not always listen. Most of us rarely think about God starting up a conversation with us and so when God does speak to us, His voice just passes us by without us even knowing that it was there.
God speaks to us in many ways and often when we least expect it. God speaks to us through other people. Sometimes, believe it or not, God speaks to us through the TV or the radio. God may even speak to us through the message on a billboard. God may even give us a message through an event that happens around us or in our lives. There is simply no telling how or when God will speak to us and it may very well be through something which is not in or from a spiritual setting at all.
For example, we could be watching a TV show and something happens in the show that touches us. That could be God calling us to do something in our lives. Maybe God will be asking us to be more accepting of others. Maybe God will be asking us to be more protective of our environment. Who knows? It may be anything.
God always speaks to us through Scripture and the more we meditate on a particular Scripture passage, the more God will say to us. All we have to do is be open and listen.
But for me, the setting in which God will speak the loudest and say the most profound things is when I am all alone and totally quiet and still. When I just sit still and block out the world and say, “Okay God, I’m listening” or ask God to please talk to me, His voice comes through loud and clear. He may allow my thoughts to wander because those are the things that He wants me to concentrate on in my life.
There are many accounts in Scripture of God talking to people, usually through an angel, in a dream or in their sleep. Think about it. When we are asleep, we are least affected by anything around us and God can have our undivided attention. That is what happened to Samuel.
But just as Samuel had to realize that it was the LORD calling him, we have to realize that God does call out to us. We never know when and we never know how but God does call out to us. In order to hear God’s call, we have to always be ready, willing and able to listen. Then we have to use our faith and follow what God calls us to do.
Don’t Get in God’s Way
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Every part of our body has a purpose. We use our eyes to see, our ears to hear and our mouth to speak. Loose any part of the body and it becomes difficult for us to perform a task and some things become impossible.
Today, Paul tells us that each of us is a part of the Mystical Body of Christ and therefore, our bodies are temples and it is the Spirit who resides within us. Paul tells us that sins of the body are sins of immorality and sins against ourselves. When we sin against ourselves, we sin against the Spirit within us.
God is the Almighty and nothing is impossible for God but when we sin against ourselves and destroy the temples of our bodies, we make it impossible for God to carry out His plan for us. Not because God is incapable. That could never be because nothing is beyond God. The reason is because we refuse it.
Think of it this way. We use our eyes to see but if something blocks our vision, we cannot see even though we have not lost our sight. So it is, if we refuse God, He cannot carry out His plan for us even though He is the Almighty and capable of all things.
But if we remove the obstacle that is blocking our vision, we will be able to see. Repentance removes the obstacle. Paul tells us that we were purchased at a price. That price was the Blood of Christ on the cross. It is because of Christ going to the cross for our sake that we are able to have our sins washed away when we confess, repent and ask for God’s mercy. In this way, all obstacles are removed, the Mystical Body remains complete and truly, nothing can stop God’s plan because we are accepting God’s plan and not rejecting it by being in the way.
The First Disciples
Gospel Commentary: John 1: 35-42
The calling of the first disciples is accounted for in all four of the gospels. Each account is its own version of what happened that day. But the point which is consistent in all four Gospels is that the first disciples were called and they answered the call as did all of the other disciples.
Today’s Gospel comes from John who tells us that John the Baptist was with two of his disciples and as Jesus walked by, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God” and the two disciples followed Jesus. They did not ask questions and they did not hesitate. They just followed.
The two disciples did not understand what John was saying with the phrase, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Was John making reference to the lamb who; would destroy evil in the world? Was John saying that Jesus would be a savior by shedding His own blood? Was John making reference to Jesus as the one who would be sacrificed as a sin offering?
At the time that this happened, any one of those descriptions of the Lamb might have been the perception of the two disciples. Little did they know that Jesus was in fact all, three. Little did they know that Jesus would defeat the evil one with His victory over, death. Little did they know that Jesus would be the Savior of the world by shedding His blood on the cross. Little did they know that Jesus would be the Sacrificial Lamb that would take the sins of the world to the cross.
The only thing that the two disciples knew was what John the Baptist said and in faith, they followed Jesus. Therein lies; the first message of this Gospel: We are called by God to follow Him in faith.
Jesus asked the disciples, “What are you looking for?” They answered, “Rabbi” which means: teacher. This tells us that the two disciples had a thirst for knowledge. They wanted to have a better understanding of God and they had faith that they could learn much from Jesus. They had never met Jesus, but they were open to hearing His Word. Message two in this Gospel: Be open to the Word of God no matter when, where, why, or how it comes to you or who the preacher is that is delivering it.
John does not call himself by name when giving an account of anything which is specific to him in his Gospels, but it is believed that he is one of the two who listened to John the Baptist and followed Jesus that day. The other disciple was Andrew who went and told his brother, Simon, that they had found the Messiah which means Christ.
How did Andrew know that they had found the Christ? Once again, they only knew what John the Baptist had said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” They did not have a full understanding of what that meant. But John did proclaim that there was one coming who; was greater than he. Obviously, that was enough for Andrew to have faith.
How much does it take for us to put our faith in God? In our humanity, we are always looking for physical and tangible proof. Creation in and of itself should be all of the proof that we need. But we constantly need to be reminded.
That’s why we have Scripture and one of the reasons why all religions have a place to gather and worship. When we visit our place of worship, we should have our thirst for God’s knowledge quenched, our appetites satisfied with the Word of God and we should have an increase in faith.
If we do not experience these things when we go to our place of worship, something is wrong. Either there is something wrong with that church’s teaching or we are not listening which means that we are not attending for the right reason.
John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of Christ. John and Andrew listened and their faith was strong enough for them to follow Christ as soon as they saw Him. Message three in this Gospel: Listen to the Word of God. Don’t just hear the words…listen to the Word.
When Andrew brought his brother Simon to meet Jesus, Jesus said to Simon, “You are Simon…you will be called Cephas which means Peter. There is no account in any of the Gospels of Peter questioning or taking issue with Jesus changing his name. Think about it. How many of us would allow someone to change our name the very first time we meet them?
Such was Peter’s faith before he even met Jesus and such was his humility toward Jesus. Message four in this Gospel: God has a plan and each of us has a part in that plan. Allow God to carry out His plan through you.
We know that John was the only Apostle to be with Jesus at the cross and that Peter was the Rock. Was it by chance that they would be among the first three disciples? Or was it all part of God’s plan? If you know that God does not take chances, you know that it was His plan. With faith, we can be confident that we are not taking a chance when we answer God’s call and follow Him. Instead, we are making ourselves available to being a part of His plan.