2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Today is the second Sunday in Ordinary time. Ordinary time signifies that part of the church year which is not part of any particular feast, like Christmas or Easter. We might ask what happened to the first Sunday in Ordinary time? Well, it was last week but the readings were superseded by the readings for the great feast of the Epiphany. Usually, the first Sunday in Ordinary time will celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the beginning of the public life of Jesus with his baptism by John the Baptist at the river Jordan. Today, we follow up on that important event.
But let's begin by taking a look at our today’s first reading from the book of Samuel. It tells of the calling of Samuel, one of the great figures in Hebrew history. Samuel had been placed in the service of the Temple to fulfill a promise his mother, Hannah, had made to the Lord. While sleeping he hears a call but thinks it is the priest Eli, his mentor. Eli tells him to go back to sleep but after a third call, he realizes that something special is happening. He instructs the young Samuel to respond if he hears the call again: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Once Samuel responded to the call, the Lord was with him, or, to put it another way, he was with the Lord.
Something similar happens in today’s gospel reading. After the Baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist points to Him and tells his own followers that Jesus is the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the Christ. Two of them, Andrew and another unnamed one whom scholars assume to be the gospel writer, respond to their mentor’s guidance and follow Jesus that very day. Almost immediately they realize that He is the Messiah. Andrew goes off to tell his brother, Simon, and bring him to Jesus. When he arrives, Jesus calls him.
“You are Simon, the son of John,
You will be called Cephas” –which is translated Peter.
Just as the life of Samuel would never be the same after he listens to and responds to the call of the Lord, the lives of Peter, Andrew, John and the other disciples would never be the same after their initial contact with the Lord. They have been called and they will have to spread the word to others. In the same way, we who have heard the Word have the same responsibility. We may not realize that we have been called, and it will probably not be as dramatic as the call to Samuel or Peter.
Jesus is going to embark on a mission that will end with his crucifixion and death. Fortunately, the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient for us. Most of us will not have to face torture and a cruel death. But if we call ourselves followers of Christ, we will have to give up, in our own little way, our own lives in the service of others.
Husbands will give up their lives for their wives, and wives for their husbands. Both will have to sacrifice for their children. When they grow older, the children will have to sacrifice for their parents. Scripture tells us that people without spouses and children are called to even greater sacrifice. Not one of us is exempt. To save our life, we must lose it.
We all love sports but don’t we admire those players who sacrifice themselves for the good of the team? Even baseball has a special play called a “sacrifice” where a player gives himself up to advance a teammate.
So in today’s second reading when St. Paul tells the Corinthians that their bodies are members of Christ, he is not telling them to become plaster saints. He is calling them to a life of hard work and sacrifice in doing the work of the Lord. He is calling us to become disciples, and “take one for the team.” He asks,
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?
Reading 1. 1 Samuel 3: 3b-10, 15
Reading II. 1 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a, 17-20
Gospel. John 1: 35-42 (Behold the Lamb of God).