January 16, 2015

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe First Book of Samuel is the source of the first reading for this weekend. Originally, First and Second Samuel were one volume. At some point in history, an editor divided them into the two volumes, and so two volumes appear in Bible translations today.

As the title of these books implies, the central figure is Samuel, a prophet active centuries before Christ.

Prophets were highly revered throughout the history of the Chosen People. They were seen as God’s special representatives, but they were also personally holy and devoted to God.

At times, prophets would initially resist their calling. Such was the case of the great prophets, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah. After all was said and done, however, they accommodated themselves to God’s will and accepted the call to be prophets.

These figures were admired because the call to be a prophet was seen precisely as a call, a summons, a commission from God and an empowerment and emboldening.

In this weekend’s reading, God calls Samuel. It occurs according to God’s plan. Samuel is open to hearing God, indeed ready to hear him. But he needs the guidance of the priest Eli to recognize God’s voice.

St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians supplies the second reading for this weekend. Many of Paul’s writings are lustrous in their clear revelation of the bond between true believers and Jesus. Jesus was the Son of God, but also human, in a mystery that theologians call the Incarnation. The Incarnation is a great, fundamental and essential fact of Christian belief.

In this belief, committed Christians, in faith and baptism, are inseparably bound to Jesus, both in a shared human nature, but also in the divine life given to believers by Christ.

This supernatural bond, the very keystone of personal salvation, requires Christians not only to be spiritually faithful but faithful in every sense of their lives. They must reject sin in both body and soul.

Stressing this point to the Christian Corinthians seems for some to be excessive for Paul, but it should be remembered, Corinth was known near and far as a virtual capital of lewdness and vice.

St. John’s Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a story about the decision to follow Jesus by Simon, later known as Peter, and Simon’s brother, Andrew. In the story, Jesus intrigues Andrew and Simon. The brothers recognize Jesus as Messiah. They thirst for salvation with its peace and promise. Jesus calls them, and they follow.

To indicate their new lives, Jesus gives Simon a new name, Cephas, that is often translated as Peter.

Reflection

The Church, in the majesty and glory of its liturgy, called us all to celebrate the birth of Christ at Christmas, revealing to us that Jesus was the son of Mary, therefore a human, as she was only human despite her unique holiness and singular place in the divine plan of redemption.

Some 10 days later, it celebrated the feast of the Epiphany, revealing then to us the fact that Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was divine, the Son of God, and that redemption is God’s gift for all people.

The Church, then, has told us about the Lord with great joy and hope. He is the Savior of the world! The son of Mary, Jesus is one of us!

The Church tells us that we are touched by God’s grace. God loves us. God calls us. He offers us eternal life in Christ. The Church now asks us, hearing these readings and celebrating these feasts, to ask ourselves what does Christ truly mean to each of us?

How should we react to the Lord? St. Paul gives very concrete advice. Samuel, Peter and Andrew are examples. We must follow Christ, the only way to find true life and joy. †

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