From the Pulpit: Jan 14, 2018

January 14, 2018               Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Introduction

“What are you looking for?”

This simple question pervades the readings for this second Sunday in ordinary time.

  • Each of us has a restlessness that needs to be satisfied.
  • Saint Augustine put it this way, “our hearts are restless, oh Lord, until they rest in you.”

Our Christmas celebration is now over and the church offers us a glimpse into the way that Jesus works.

First Reading

We begin with a significant story found in our first reading. It is the call of a young man whose name is Samuel.

Background

As a young boy, Samuel is staying at the temple of the Lord in Shiloh.

  • The reason why is that his mother Hannah who was beyond childbearing age, has been blessed by the Lord with her son.
  • As a result, Hannah has consecrated him to the Lord and so he lives there at the temple in Shiloh.
  • He assists the priest Eli. So this is the background for the store.

Call of Samuel

So as it happens, one night as they usually do, Eli and Samuel have retired for the evening.

  • Each is sleeping in a different place in the temple precincts.
  • In the middle of the night, Samuel hears somebody calling him.
  • Naturally, he would assume that it was Eli.
  • So he’s gets up and he goes over to Eli, shakes him, wakes him up, and says, “here I am.” Obviously Eli is not amused and says, “I did not call you so go back to sleep.”
  • So, this happens again.
  • You can imagine that at this point Eli is becoming annoyed.
  • So, he tells Samuel, “go back to sleep and don’t bother me.”
  • Well as the story unfolds, the same thing happens a third time. It is with this third occurrence that Eli realizes that it is the Lord who is calling Samuel.
  • He wisely instructs him to respond, “speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
  • Once again, Samuel here’s the voice, “Samuel, Samuel” However this time Samuel responds, “speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
  • He hears God’s call and responds.

With that response, God blesses him and confirms the power of his words as one selected by God to be his spokesman.

Gospel

In our gospel today from Saint John, we hear the call of the first disciples. The story connects John the Baptist and Jesus.

  • As John is preaching and baptizing we are told that Jesus walks by.
  • With that we hear those famous words uttered at every single mass, “behold the Lamb of God.”

 

  • They are important words because with them two of the disciples immediately follow after Jesus.

The question

It’s A very human story. Jesus stops for a moment, turns around and looks at them. With that, he says, “what are you looking for?”

  • That question really has two meanings to it.
  • Of course the first meaning might be “why are you following me or what’s up with you?”
  • However, the deeper meaning might be “what is it that your spirit or your heart really hungers for?”
  • Perhaps Jesus catches them by surprise and so they need to do some quick thinking, “well where do you live or where do you stay?”
  • Jesus responds to them in the same way that he responds to every single one of his disciples, “come and see!”
  • Saint John tells us in the gospel that they spend the entire day and even into the evening hours with Jesus.
  • It must’ve been fascinating for them listening to him speak about God‘s vision for people, the potential of what humanity could be, and blessings for the future when the kingdom of God is finally revealed and manifest.

Peter

After this experience, we find the name of one of them. He is Andrew the brother of Simon.

  • There is great excitement as Andrew runs and finds his brother and says, “I think we have found the messiah. You must come and meet him.”
  • What happens then is they run back to Jesus and in doing so an important event takes place.
  • Jesus calls Simon by name and changes that name from Simon to Kephas which translated means rock or Peter.
  • That moment Jesus must have seen something wonderful in Peter to call him and give him a new name which would signify his place in Jesus’ vision for God’s kingdom.
  • From that moment on Simon would be identified as Peter the name Jesus gave him.

Application

From our two stories of being called, two things are evident.

  1. First, if you noticed God always calls people by name.
  • God’s call is always individual and personal.
  • Gods call it’s not a general call to everyone.
  • As you can see from our scriptures for today, God calls both Samuel and Peter by name.
  • The same is true for each of us as well.
  • Jesus does not offer a general invitation for everyone to come and follow him.
  • No he calls you and I by name to enter into a relationship with him. He calls us individually and personally to be his disciples.
  • God calls us according to our abilities and talents. That was certainly the case for both Samuel and Peter.
  • God saw in Samuel the gift to be his profit and spokesperson.
  • Obviously, Jesus saw in Peter the talent and gifts to be the leader of the disciples.
  1. The second thing the stories tell us is that as God calls us by name, he has a mission or a task that is specific to each of us.
  • As God calls individuals personally, He has something in mind that only that person can do.
  • In the first reading, God called Samuel because his task or his mission was to guide the people of Israel.
  • When Jesus saw Simon Peter, he called him by name because he intended that his mission would be the leadership of the disciples and eventually the church.
  • It was a task or mission only Peter would be entrusted with.
  • The same is for you and me as well.
  • When God calls each of us personally and uniquely, he has something specific in mind for each of us.
  • Think of it this way, God has a mission for each of us based upon our talents and skills. It’s something that he has in mind that only you or I can do.
  • If we don’t answer his call, then, that mission will fall by the wayside and never be accomplished.
  • It’s an awesome thing to think that God would entrust you and me with something specific that he has in mind for each of us

 

Gospel Challenge

Here’s the gospel challenge for this week. Take 10 minutes or so and spend it with the Lord.

  • Quiet yourself and then invite Jesus to be with you.
  • In those moments let your response be the same as Samuel’s in today’s first reading.
  • Sit quietly with the Lord. Say to him, “speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
  • Take that time just to listen to what the Lord has to tell you.
  • I know that he has something that he wants to say to you.
  • You may just be surprised. It’s time well were spent!