Sunday, January 15, 2012

January 15, 2012 - Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Ecce Agnus Dei”
by Dienic the Elder Bouts, 1462-64
Readings for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time[1][2]

Readings and Commentary:[3]

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am.  You called me.”
“I did not call you, “  Eli said.  “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am, “ he said.  “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son.  Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am.  You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
Commentary on 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19

This passage contains the story of the call of Samuel popularized by the song “Here I Am Lord”. It is clear from the text that this historical period did not have regular contacts with those gifted with prophecy. It was rare for the Lord to speak in those days; it is the priest Eli who recognizes that it is God calling to the young Samuel and tells the boy how to respond.

Although it is not contained in the selection, verses 11-18 provide the context of Samuel’s first oracle which is a punishment upon the family of Eli whose sons have blasphemed. Samuel’s fame, we are told, spreads as his favored status as prophet becomes known.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
   and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

While Psalm 40 is a song of thanksgiving, it is also combined with a lament. The initial waiting is satisfied by favor shown by God to one who is faithful in service to Him. Praise and thanksgiving are given to God whose justice is applied to all.


The body, however, is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body
Commentary on 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20  

This passage is part of the Apostles address on sexual sins – moral degradation.  Libertines of the day advocated that the “sexual appetite” was akin to the body’s need for food and drink.  St. Paul refutes this idea.  He places the physical body on a higher order; it is to be a temple, glorified in the end times (the Eschaton).

Don’t you know…” the Apostle emphasizes that the Christian body belongs to Christ.  It is incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church.  Because of this unity, degradation of the individual body in sexual sins degrades the whole body.  This type of destruction of the body causes Christ, the bridegroom of the Church to be in intimate relationship with a harlot.  The selection concludes with the exhortation to purity so that the Holy Spirit, in dwelling, may live in a temple set aside – sanctified in baptism for God.

Gospel: John 1:35-42

The next day John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —,
“where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.
Commentary on Jn 1:35-42

Our Gospel shows how John the Baptist recognized Jesus as the Messiah immediately. It also shows the humility of the “Voice” always deferring to the “Word”.  St. John’s disciples hear him identify Jesus as “the lamb of God” and follow Jesus.  St. John, who must “decrease(John 3: 30) encourages his own disciples to follow Jesus.  The impact of the prophet’s pronouncement on two of his disciples is clear, one of whom we will come to revere as one of the Twelve, St. Andrew, brother of Peter follows Jesus and spends the day with him.  He tells his brother, St. Peter (Cephas) “We have found the Messiah”.  In this Gospel Cephas is brought to Jesus, and receives his new name; “Rock”. 

Somewhat ironic is the translation we are given which demonstrates the multi-linguistic nature of the translation.  “…you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.Cephas is from the Aramaic which means “rock”, however the original translation was from Aramaic to Greek.  Rock in Greek is rendered as Petros, our name Peter derives from that form.


We are made, we are called, we respond.  We are made anew in baptism; dedicated to God and sanctified by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  In that sense we are in Samuel’s place, in “…the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was.”  The Hebrews believed that while God was omnipresent, he had a special dwelling with the Ark of the Covenant.  In much the same way we believe that while God is present in all his creation, his essence especially resides in the Eucharist   We are in that place and listen for that call.

St. John the Baptist pointed out who it was that came, anointed by God as the Messiah at his Baptism in the Jordan.  He named him to two of his own disciples in the Gospel; “Behold, the Lamb of God.”  Look, he said, there goes the sacrifice that makes us whole; the lamb who is to be the sacrifice of atonement as prescribed under Mosaic Law.  It is the Seder Meal, unleavened bread, taken before our journey to freedom from sin.  All of that was captured for his disciples as the Lord waked by.  How could they not follow him?

And when the reached him, what did they ask?  What was the first thing they wanted to know?  “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —, “where are you staying?”  They asked “Where do you abide – rest?”  Understanding their intention the Lord invited them to come and see.  It is an invitation we also receive, just as we were called like Samuel we are invited to follow the Lord to the place where he abides.

The parallels are clear, we are made and we called.  The only question that is yet to be answered is how we respond?  That is not an easy answer for any of us because the invitation is extended each day and each day we must respond.  Some days we don not hear it, other days; even though the call is clear enough, our hearts cannot say “Here I am.”

What does that mean – “Here I am.”  The Lord knows where we are, he knows our every move so that response is not like one would call out to one blind-folded “I am over here.”  It is an offer of self.  It means that the Lord may ask what ever he wants and “Here I am.”  That response is our gift to the Father.  It means that we have looked and listened to what he would have from us and we respond in the affirmative “Here I am.”  It means that we do not always take the easiest path, but rather do as the Lord would have us do, follow him to where he is staying.

The difficulty, as always, is that we must know the Lord well enough to know were we are relative to were he wants us to be.  In other words, before we can say “Here I am.”  We must know were we are.  It is through prayer and discernment that we discover our place.  It is through effort and dedication that we come to understand what he calls us to do and be.

Today we hear that call once more.  We hear St. John point and say; look, “Behold the Lamb of God” We hear and pray that we may respond with “Here I am.”


[2] The picture used today is “Ecce Agnus Dei” by Dienic the Elder Bouts, 1462-64
[3] The readings are taken from the New American Bible with the exception of the Psalm and its response which were developed by the International Committee for English in Liturgy (ICEL). This re-publication is not authorized by USCCB and is for private use only.

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