Sunday Homily, January 17, 2021

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle B:
By Fr. Claude Perera, OMI

Theme: Vocation

Readings:                                                                                                                        

First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:3b–10,19
The Lord calls Samuel.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40:2, 4, 7–8, 8–9, 10
A prayer of commitment to follow the will of the Lord.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a,17–20
Paul reminds the Corinthians that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Reading: John 1:35–42
John the Baptist recognizes Jesus as the Lamb of God, and Jesus receives his first followers.

Background to the Readings and Homily


In the first reading of today from the book of Prophet Samuel, we hear the call of Samuel. The name Samuel may mean most likely “God heard”. His birth was a result of God hearing his mother Hanna’s bitter cries as a barren woman in advanced age. Samuel was the last of the Judges who succeeded Eli as the high priest at Shiloh. During the period of Judges, there is no mention of prophetic activity except twice, i.e. Deborah the female Judge who was a prophetess (Jud 4:4) and the anonymous prophet of Israel (Jud 6:8-10). Samuel was not only a Judge, but also first major prophetic figure who had both religious and political functions to play as they settled down in the Promised Land. Thus, his call was a hall mark in the history of Israel. For a person of such stature, a vague and hazy call will not do. It had to be well discerned and known for sure. That is why he had to be called three times. Finally, it was Eli, the High Priest of Shiloh who identified it. Besides, it was not something sporadic.  His parents had brought him as a young child to live in the temple to serve God in fulfillment of the vow made by his mother,

Anow let us turn to today’s gospel. As the second Sunday in the Ordinary time of the Year, which is a B Year of the cycle of Sunday readings during which we should have read the Gospel of Mark, but we had today’s gospel from John. And that is a continuation of last Sunday’s reading. Today’s gospel reading immediately follows John the Baptist’s testimony and his identification of Jesus as the Lamb of God. Having received the baptism by John, Jesus begins to gather followers. The first followers of Jesus were former followers of John the Baptist. They were looing for Jesus because of the testimony of John the Baptist who spoke of Jesus as the Lamb of God. We hear it at Mass everyday at the fraction rite. For Jews, this title brought the memories of the first Passover feast when the paschal lamb was first offered as a sacrifice before God after which the Israelites began acquiring their freedom from slavery in Egypt. This designation as the lamb of God also recalls prophet Isaiah’s description of the Suffering Servant of Israel. Using this name for Jesus, John the Baptist alludes to Jesus’ passion and death and thus, a new interpretation of the Jewish Passover begins in terms of the Last Supper, the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
Andrew and another man were already followers of John the Baptist. After hearing John’s testimony of Jesus being the lamb of God, these two became followers of Jesus. They began to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. Faith becomes contagious. Andrew then brings his brother, Simon, to Jesus who also followed him It is not that they understood the meaning
of that title of Jesus. They followed him because their teacher, the Baptist pointed at him. When they ask for Jesus’ whereabouts, He told them to come and see. Jesus was an itinerant preacher. He had no sedentary occupation or a mailing address unlike ours during His public life. His was a journey of faith going from place to place. The disciples gradually got accustomed to this strange way of life. The Lord moulded them to become like him.

When we speak of vocation in the Church, we often restrict it to clerical state and religious life. This is a gross mistake. It is a biblical fallacy. In the Bible, God calls people to varied and multiple services. In the Church, similarly, there are many and varied charisms (1 Cor 12:5). Among them only some are exercised in contexts of clerical or consecrated life. Many of the services or ministries in the church are exercised by the members of the laity. God in His opportune time will provide pastors for his people (Pastores dabo vobis – Jr 3:15). But what is important is that we prepare the ground for future devoted and committed Catholic leaders through the Christian/Catholic formation we give our children at home and in Catholic schools. Our homes with committed holy parents must be places where Christian/Catholic values are being lived, witnessed, and promoted. Children growing in such homes, have greater chances of becoming good human beings, and God-willing, good Christians/Catholics some day. If there is a good laity in the Church, vocations, be it for clerical/religious way of life or for lay leadership, will keep breeding. Rather than wailing over the dearth of vocations, we must do the spade work during the childhood and adolescence of our progeny, and of course, pray to the Lord of the harvest so that He may send labourers to His harvest (Mt 9:37-38).

Happy Sunday! Bon Dimanche! Buona Domenica! Schönen Sonntag! Gelukkige Zondag! Szczęśliwej Niedzieli! Sretna Nedjelja! Shubha Iru Dinak, Iniya Gnaayiru! Ravivaar Mubaarak Ho!

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