Sunday Scripture Readings

SECOND SUNDAY

IN ORDINARY TIME,

JANUARY 19

1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10;

1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42

OUR GOOD NEWS: Each of us as Christians is personally called to discipleship, which demands our ongoing response of commitment. After the Christmas season, the Church year suitably begins with two call narratives, since our own Christian lives began with God's call, inviting us into the community of the saved. From numerous such stories in the Old Testament, Samuel's call has been chosen for its specific themes. Samuel appears here in early adolescence as the apprentice-servant of Eli, a priest in charge of Israel's central sanctuary at Shiloh. The boy's duties included attendance during the night near "the Ark of God," a most sacred cult object and place of unique divine presence among the people. Threefold repetition of God's call, indicates genuine experience rather than hallucination. Repeated auditions plus vision ("the Lord revealed his presence"), and especially Eli's discerning guidance, authenticate Samuel's call. The elderly priest here showed himself as wise and practical, a model spiritual director. After dismissing two interruptions, Eli changed his mind, careful not to come between God and the young man. Samuel is an illustrious figure ranking with Moses and David as a man of God. Implications of the wondrous story about his conception by a barren woman now began to unfold. He who faithfully served in the sanctuary came to "know" - be familiar with - God, enjoying a special relationship combining in himself Old Testament offices of priest, prophet and leader through his long and fruitful ministry. The lesson for us is that God often calls ordinary people, including the young, to serve within the community. We therefore need guidance in discerning and responding to his will. The story of Jesus calling his first disciples (Gospel) differs significantly in John, Luke and Matthew-Mark, thus reminding us to search for meaning. There is, first, the role of John the Baptist. Other Gospels portray him as a rugged preacher of repentance, harshly confronting close-minded Pharisees and Sadducees. By contrast, John's Gospel presents a self-effacing figure whose role is preeminently one of witness held up for our imitation. Instead of building up his own following, John selflessly directed disciples to Jesus. For each of us, belief in Jesus proceeds in stages which John described for the first followers. First, we respond to testimony given by others. Then, having "seen" where Jesus dwells - within the community of believers - we move to commitment based on our own experience of the risen Lord. Finally, conversion is not complete without becoming a witness for Jesus. In Andrew's case conversion is completed, demonstrating belief (Jesus acknowledged as the Messiah), and then bringing another to discipleship. Simon's new life in Christ is symbolized by his new name, "Peter," conferred by the Master. We all find and grow in faith through the lifelong seeking of God's will, coming to God through Jesus, whom we find in the local Christian community, where we believe and commit ourselves as disciples.

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