Sunday, January 18, 2009

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear All,

The Readings of this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time are about the calling.  The First Reading from the Old Testament is about Samuel’s.  He was born of Hannah, a barren woman who is blessed by Eli after her vow that if she has a son she will dedicate it to God.  The young boy is living with the half-blind priest serving his temple apprenticeship at the scene of today’s Reading.  It is a beautifully choreographed three part dialogue.  God calls, Samuel hears the voice thinking it comes from Eli and Eli after several repetitions of sending the kid back to sleep, finally realizes Who was calling.  This was at a time of crisis in the political life of Israel around 1,100 BCE.  The priestly family serving the temple of Shiloh had become spiritually exhausted, politics and society were corrupted.  When I think about this short scene of Samuel’s calling I reflect back on the times in my life where I was called and now in hindsight realize that I thought it was an ‘Eli’ speaking not grasping that it was God calling me in a certain direction.  I also wonder about the few occasions I played the role of Eli in the life of someone by helping to discern the content of a message. You may want to think about your roles as ‘Eli’ as well as ‘Samuel’ when hearing a calling.

The Gospel of John tells us about Jesus first recruits.  Jesus does not yet have a following, he is just an ordinary Middle Eastern man.  There is no miraculous healing, no dramatic instruction that mesmerizes the crowds.  He is simply (‘ordinarily’) passing by the people who are standing around.  His biblical ‘advertising agent’, John the Baptist, who foretold us about His coming since the Second Sunday of Advent (see the December 7, 2008 article) through last Sunday’s Baptism of the Lord feast, points him out to two of his followers.  After they spend the day with Jesus they realized how extraordinary he was.  Andrew, one of them, went and recruited his brother Simon.  Jesus on the spot renames Simon to Peter (Cephas in Aramaic), indicating that He knew that He would commission Peter to become the rock upon which to build the Church.

Paul had been thrown out of Corinth, though not convicted, because of preaching against the licentiousness and depravity at the thriving gulf city, a center of commerce with Greek, Roman and Egyptian religious diversity.  The Acro-Corinth on top of the mountain had the temple of Aphrodite earning the reputation of something of an ancient “Sin City”.  Paul writes to his followers in today’s Second Reading to remind them of the sanctity of the body that is not for immorality.  Another call that applies properly to our times, where the Aphrodite temples have been replaced by pornography polluting the internet.

All three incidents were quite ordinary on first appearance.  Through the eyes of faith we recognize how extraordinary these three callings were.  Be it Samuel accepting the message, or the Corinthian Christians that recognized their bodily dignity and focused on morality in their lives, or the disciples who hadn’t even noticed Jesus; they were called to deeper insights through the agency of another (i.e. Eli, Paul and John the Baptist).

A complete text of the readings at:

With God’s Love and Blessings,


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