2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time (B)
January 7, 2018 by
David Jackson in
Reflections on Sunday Gospels
Last Sunday we finished the Advent-Christmas cycle. This Sunday we return to Ordinary time. We will have several Sundays of Ordinary time prior to beginning the season of Lent.
It is in very ordinary ways that God enters our lives, thus making them extraordinary. Jesus calls people to serve him in different ways. Our call is not a one time event. At different times in our life Jesus calls us to different things. The Gospels for this Sunday and the next give us two examples of the way the Gospel writers describe Jesus’ call.
The first reading this week also gives us food for thought in the call of Samuel. Samuel must struggle to hear the Word of God. Three times he responds that he is ready, but he wrongly responds to Eli. Finally Eli helps him to understand that it is God calling. At times in our lives we must be helped by others to hear the word of the Lord. I remember a choir director beginning Mass by announcing: “Please rise and join us in singing our opening hymn to welcome our Spirit Guide.” We must realize that it is not just priests and sisters who are spiritual guides. A man told me that when he was getting ready to get married an older man of the parish told him, “Just get in the habit of getting up for Mass every Sunday. It’s just as easy to get in the habit of getting up as it is to get in the habit of staying in bed.” That man is a regular church goer. He received wise guidance which has made a difference in his life. The puzzled and questioning Samuel of today’s first reading became a man of discernment. Samuel was chosen by God to anoint the first king of Israel. He also was chosen to anoint Saul’s successor. The sons of Jesse were presented to him as candidates. He rejected all six. He chose the most unlikely the Shepherd boy David. He anointed David King.
From the Synoptic Gospels, we have come to know John the Baptizer as the one who prepared the way for Christ. In the Fourth Gospel, however, he is assigned a different role: “he came for testimony”. John’s Gospel offers no account of Christ’s baptism, as the synoptic Gospels do, but chooses to describe the encounter between John and Jesus in a different way.
With each passing scene, the figure of Jesus grows more prominent. First Jesus is simply described as “one among you whom you do not recognize.” But John also says twice in the following verses “I did not know him.” In the next scene, John sees Jesus “coming toward him”. In today’s scene, Jesus actually “walks by”. John points out Jesus as the Lamb of God. Two of his followers leave him to follow Jesus. Jesus turns and asks “what are you looking for?” Their response seems to indicate that Jesus had disoriented them a bit, “Rabbi where are you staying?” He said to them, “come and you will see.”
Jesus call of the disciples is quite different if we compare the Gospel of John with that of Luke, Mark and Matthew. Next Sunday we will hear the call story according to St. Mark. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Although the disciples follow Jesus they are not yet his followers. Jesus invites them to stay with him. Only after we stay with Jesus for a time do we actually become his followers.
Many times we are like the biblical figures of the reading. We do not always look beneath the surface, so we often miss the extraordinary in what is ordinary. We do not hear the voice of God in the voices of others calling us to great things, to sacrifice ourselves for our children or give of ourselves to aging parents. We do not recognize Christ in the thoughtful people with whom we work, the honest people with whom we do business, the understanding people who help us in simple ways, and the ordinary people with whom we live. Pope Francis continually calls us to not be indifferent. He challenges you and me to go to the periphery. What periphery is he calling me to? A friend of mine was challenged by a nun: “you are doing Church work but are you doing the work of the Church?” We must attune our ears to hear the voice of God. In what way is the voice of God waiting for me to respond: “Here I am. You called me.”?
Becoming a disciple of Jesus and integrating what the “kingdom of God” really means, is a process. Where am I along that process?