Saturday, January 17, 2009

January18: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B

18 January Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Readings: 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19; 1 Cor. 6:13-15,17-20; John 1:35-42

This Sunday, the readings focus our attention on God's call to discipleship. In the first reading, God calls the young Samuel three times, but Samuel in his innocence does not recognise God's voice until he is guided by Eli to respond whole-heartedly to the voice of the Lord. The passage presents two important features of God's call to discipleship. Samuel's extended presence in the Lord's house prepares him for his future task. Secondly Samuel shows his willingness not only to remain in the Lord's company, but also to be submissive to his will. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening", an aspect underlined in the response to the Psalm. "Here I am Lord, I come to do your will". The call of Samuel was unexpected and Samuel was the most unlikely person to be God's prophet since he was still a youth. Today, God still calls his people, sometimes in very unlikely circumstances. At the beginning of the Twentieth century, an Italian boy heard God's call. He was the most unlikely candidate because his father was quite opposed to the Catholic Church. He was a member of the Italian Socialist Party and he often mocked the Church. His son Albino, heard a Franciscan preach, and he felt called to the priesthood. Albino's father was working in another city, and so Albino, with great fear wrote a letter to his father. After a long silence, the reply finally arrived. There was only a small piece of paper on which his father wrote, “If that is your wish, do it.” Eventually his father was reconciled with the Church. Albino kept the note all his life, and he still had it when in 1978 as Cardinal and Bishop of Venice, travelled to Rome for the election of a new Pope. Against everyone's expectation, the Cardinals elected him. He became known as “the smiling Pope”, Pope John Paul I. His Papacy lasted only 33 days, but he left a deep impression. Today, Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, is on the path to beatification and sainthood.

The Gospel deals with the call of the first two disciples of Jesus. Here John uses the image of living in and dwelling with the Father as the central feature of discipleship. In this account, John the Baptist points out the Lord to two of his disciples. In the conversation between Jesus and the two men we are led to see the real meaning of God's call. "Rabbi, where do you live?" Jesus responded to them, "come and you will see". This dialogue leads us to another central feature of discipleship, namely, searching and discovering. John leads us into a deeper reflection. "So they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him that day". Once we have started our journey in search for the Lord, we will discover him, encounter him and, in listening to him we will want to remain in his presence, for we shall have discovered our call from God. God does not only choose from famous people like Pope John Paul I or Samuel. He chooses ordinary people like you and me. Jesus still looks back and asks us “What are you looking for?” When you hear his voice, tell him you want to know where he lives and he will indeed invite you. “Come and you will see.” Only when we have accepted Jesus' call do we understand why he has called us. Three points sum up the message: 1) The readings focus our attention on God's call to discipleship; 2) Like the call of Samuel and Albino, God chooses ordinary people like you and me to play a role in the drama of salvation and invites us to go and see where he lives; 3) God expects us to respond like Samuel and Albino positively, to go and remain with him.

©2009 John M Mbinda

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