FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19 | Psalm 40:2,4,7-8,8-9,10 | 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 | John 1:35-42
Our readings this Sunday speak about God's call and people's response.
Last Christmas, like many of you, I reached out to my family and friends over the phone to say, "Merry Christmas." However, as I dialed, I encountered the familiar message, "Sorry, but all the circuits are busy now." It seemed everyone else was reaching out to their families and friends simultaneously. Similarly, there have been instances when God sought to communicate with us, but it felt like there was a constant busy signal. In various moments of our lives, God has wanted to engage with us, yet the line seemed occupied, and we were unwilling to put other distractions on hold to connect with Him. Often, we find ourselves too occupied with numerous worthwhile activities that divert our attention, making us too busy to heed God's voice. We need to create time.
The First Reading kicks off Samuel's prophetic journey. During this time, Samuel, a young lad, is working in the temple under Eli the priest's guidance. The repeated calls from the Lord to Samuel create a pattern, and eventually, Eli recognizes that it's the Lord reaching out. On the fourth call, Samuel is ready and willing to listen to God. His response, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening," shows his obedience and preparedness to serve God. This moment paves the way for Samuel to become a crucial figure in Israelite history, taking on roles like a prophet, judge, and the one who anoints Saul and David as kings. The closing verse emphasizes that the Lord was with Samuel as he grew, indicating the reliability and divine authority of his prophetic messages. This is because Samuel consistently listened attentively to God's words and faithfully passed them on to others. The story prompts reflection on our own responsiveness to God's call in the present. God is calling us now, today. What is He saying to us? Are we really listening? The prayer, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening," is a beautiful way to kick off Ordinary Time with an open heart, ready to heed God's guidance.
During a raid on an office space in Manila, authorities uncovered what is believed to be a prostitution den. The Western Police District apprehended a clergyman found in a room with two women engaged in prostitution and party drugs. When questioned by a news reporter about how his actions aligned with Christian values, he responded, "Certainly, I acknowledge Christian values. However, what does that have to do with engaging with a prostitute? It's a personal matter".
Our second reading also contains a call: a call to tend to our bodies with the respect they are due, as temples of the sacred. I think many Christians can relate to the idea that sex is a personal matter. Too many Christians separate their Sunday worship from the rest of their lives. That was definitely the attitude in Corinth, and St. Paul took it on. In a world of rights and choices, the Apostle Paul teaches Christians that Christian freedom is lived in relationship to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit of which harmony of the community or the body is maintained and nurtured. God has given sex as a gift to bond husband and wife together in a mutual, exclusive, joy-filled covenant where husband and wife can be naked and unashamed and where vulnerability, trust, and pleasure can exist as husband and wife are "one flesh." To underscore the nature of sexual sin being more than just a physical action, Paul tell us that with "every other sin" a person commits is outside the body, yet sexual sin is against one's own body. I think Paul is trying to show us how sexual sin leaves emotional scarring, brokenness, and guilt in a way that is different than many other sins because your soul treats it differently, it is intended to bond two people together and if you buy into the Corinthian way of thinking about sex, or the modern way of thinking about sex, then you are jumping from one bonding experience to another, and essentially your "one-flesh" bonding is being ripped apart each time. There are two present dangers with this, one is that you become increasingly marked by this type of guilt and scarring, however, the other danger is one that many in our world experience and that is they become so callous as to lose the ability to bond in intimacy with others through sexual intimacy the way God designed it to be.
Noel, a twenty-year-old teacher who had recently taken up volunteer work at the parish, exuded immense enthusiasm for the gospel. During the joyful month of May, he packed the church service vehicle with teenagers and transported them to Catechism class to learn about Jesus, Mary, and the saints. Despite facing challenges in convincing a particularly attractive young man to attend, as he was preoccupied with romantic endeavors and uninterested in parish life, Noel eventually succeeded by offering him the opportunity to drive the vehicle. Upon arrival at the Catechism class, the young man was captivated and became a regular attendee, eventually volunteering as an altar server after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation. The once reluctant attendee, now transformed, later joined the seminary, became ordained as a priest, and eventually rose to the position of a Catholic bishop. While not everyone may follow the same path as the boy-turned-bishop, we can all emulate Noel by inviting our friends to explore and learn about Jesus, to come and see.
The Gospel account is the call and response of Jesus' first disciples. John the Baptist points to Jesus and proclaims, "There is the Lamb of God." Two individuals leave John and start their journey with Jesus. They are curious about this One Who is proclaimed to be the Lamb of God, a term that has a great deal of meaning not fully explained by John. The inquirers call Jesus "Rabbi" or "Teacher" and they ask Him about His living situation. Jesus simply offers an invitation: "Come, and see." After spending the day with Jesus, Andrew has a sense about Who Jesus is. As soon as he became a disciple, Andrew went to give testimony to his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus. Knowing Jesus and where he stays is not primarily a matter of intellectual knowledge. It is not a matter of information, nor is it a question of knowing all theology, dogmatic, and moral. As well, it is not a question of being an expert in all the teaching and the rules of the Church – Pharisees of all times are good at that. One could know the 1983 Code of Canon Law, all 668 pages of it by heart, and still not know Jesus. Here we have a perfect example of evangelization. Andrew himself finds Jesus, stays with him, comes to know who he is, and then goes to bring his brother to share the experience. It was another "Come, and see" situation, and Peter, the fisherman, was hooked! It is also worth noting that Peter, who would become the leader of the new community after Jesus left them, was not called directly by Jesus, but by his brother. How many people, who could do great things for the Catholic Church, are waiting for me to bring them to Jesus? I should also reflect with gratitude on the many people who have brought me in so many ways to a deeper personal knowledge of Jesus. Come and see – that is the Way to follow, there is no other way. Experience Jesus. Know Jesus. Share Jesus.
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum