January 15, 2021

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 Mass 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 regarded as God’s special representatives. They also were holy and devoted to God. At times, prophets resisted their calling initially. Such was the case of the great prophets—Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah. After all was said and done, 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 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 and ready to hear God, but cannot hurry the divine plan.

St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians supplies the second reading. 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 called the incarnation. The incarnation is a great fundamental and essential fact of Christian belief.

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

This supernatural bond, the keystone of personal salvation, requires Christians to be faithful in every sense of their lives. They must reject all sin.

Stressing this point to the Christian Corinthians seems for some to be excessive for Paul. But it should be remembered that Corinth was a virtual capital of lewdness and vice in the first century.

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 the 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.


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.

Two weeks later, it celebrated the feast of the Epiphany, revealing then to us the fact that the Christ child was divine, the Son of God, and that redemption is God’s gift for all people.

Then, the Church brought us to the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. He is our Savior, rescuing us from our sin. So, the Church has introduced us to the Lord with great joy and hope.

Each time, the Church tells us that we are called as Samuel and the Apostles were called. We are being touched by God’s grace.

The Church now urges us, hearing these readings and celebrating these feasts, to respond, asking ourselves what does Christ truly mean to each of us?

How should we respond to the Lord? St. Paul gives concrete advice. Samuel, Peter and Andrew are examples. We must willingly follow Christ in every way. †

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