2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time B – Jan. 14, 2024

 

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time B – Jan. 14, 2024

1 Samuel 3: 3b-10, 19; 1 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a, 17-20; John 1: 35-42

 

Theme: Jesus’s Self Revelation to the First Disciples

The feast of the Baptism of our Lord that we celebrated last Monday, January 8th, marked the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of the liturgical season called “Ordinary Time”. This Sunday is the second week in Ordinary Time. Why is this period called “Ordinary Time”? The term “Ordinary” does not mean that this time is unimportant. From Latin ordinalis, “Ordinary” means “numbered”. So, “Ordinary Time” is thirty-four weeks that stands outside of the all-important seasons of Christmas with its preparatory time called Advent and Easter with its preparatory time called Lent. These thirty-four weeks of Ordinary Time mark the movement of time and unfold the story of our salvation. The liturgical color used in Ordinary Time is green, meaning that this is a time of spiritual growth.

The liturgy of this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is connected to those of the Epiphany and Baptism of our Lord in the Christmas Season as all three liturgies aim to reveal the divine nature of Jesus. As I mentioned in my homily of the Epiphany of the Lord last Sunday, the early Church identified three specific events that reveal Jesus’ divine nature, and the modern Lectionary and liturgical calendar maintain the theme together. They are (1) the visit of the Magi (Epiphany), (2) the Baptism of the Lord, and (3) the Sunday after the Baptism of the Lord, the second Sunday in Ordinary Time which is today. This Sunday always has either a Gospel passage of John the Baptist’s testimony to Jesus (John 1: 29-42) or the Wedding at Cana (John 2: 1-11). The Liturgical Year A reads the first part of the passage of John, the Baptist’s testimony to Jesus (John 1: 29-34) and the Liturgical Year B takes the second part of this section (John 1: 35-42). The Liturgical Year C uses the passage of the wedding at Cana (John 2: 1-11). All of these three events reveal Jesus’ glory and divine identity before his public ministry.

The scripture readings of this Sunday tell us about the call-vocation of some individuals: Samuel in the first reading and the first two disciples and Simon Peter in the Gospel. The focus is on the people who help these individuals in their callings and on the growth of their vocation. Eli helped Samuel to become familiar with the voice of God. John the Baptist pointed two of his disciples to Jesus who is the Lamb of God. So, he helped these two disciples to become Jesus’ disciples.  In his turn, Andrew, one of these two disciples, brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. He helped Simon Peter to become Jesus’ follower. Today, God continues to call each one of us either to the religious life, priesthood, or marriage. Besides these types of life, all of us baptized Christians share the same calling of the baptismal priesthood. In baptism, Jesus calls us to become his disciples, serving Jesus in different ministries (for instance as nurses/doctors, schoolteachers, choir, lector, Eucharist ministers, altar servers, etc.) We are also called to help other people respond to their vocations by becoming Jesus’ followers as we are, and together, we are called to grow up in our callings every day as we encounter Jesus in the sacraments and decide to stay with him.

The two disciples of our Gospel learn from John the Baptist that Jesus is the Lamb of God.  Immediately, they leave their rabbi John and follow him. But so far, they do not know why they follow Jesus. We too come to Church because our parents, priests, teachers, and catechists taught us about Jesus. This is a good start. Now, Jesus asks us a question as he did to these two disciples: “What are you looking for?” We need to think before we answer. We come to Mass and live our Christian life, but what are we looking for exactly? In other words, why are we Christians? Why do we follow Jesus? This question is the foundational stamp of John’s Gospel that is posed to all seekers of Jesus. It determines our identity as followers of Jesus.

These two disciples answered Jesus’ question with another question. It sounds like before they determine their motivation for following Jesus, they want to know if their new master Jesus has a physical home address and enough resources to take care of the disciples (students). In other words, they want to know who Jesus really is: his lifestyle and the type of his mission. So, they know about Jesus so far with John Baptist's help and now they want to know Jesus personally. Pay attention to the difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus. Have we asked this personal question to know who Jesus really is before we accepted to become Christians or Jesus’ followers? Do we personally know Jesus whom we follow?  As Christians, you and I must learn from these two disciples. Our call-vocation must grow from knowing about Jesus to knowing Jesus.

Jesus understood the preoccupation of these disciples. He then invites them to follow him and see with their own eyes. “Come and see.” (V. 39). The narrator tells us that these two disciples “went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day.” (V. 39).  When we attend Mass, we respond to that invitation. The Mass helps us to know who Jesus really is. We hear him in the scripture readings, we see him and touch him with our hands in the Eucharist, and we become one with him in the sacrament of the Holy Communion. This wonderful experience with our Lord is the reason for us to stay with him and strengthen our one-on-one relationship with him.  So, what we look for by being Christians is to follow Jesus and stay with him, which means to be in a personal relationship with him.

This personal relationship with Jesus entails conversion. When we follow Jesus and stay with him, we need to avoid sin. In our second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that our bodies are members of Christ. So, no parts of our bodies can be used sinfully because we come to Jesus, stay with him, and become “one spirit with him” (1 Corinthians 6: 17).     

This personal relationship with Jesus also entails a mission. We are called to share our Christian experience with others, inviting and helping them to also come to Jesus and have the same experience with him. This is what Andrew, one of the two disciples of our Gospel, did to his brother Simon Peter, and Eli did with Samuel in our first reading. The first person whom Andrew evangelized was his “blood” brother Simon Peter. According to the context of this Gospel story, Peter did not know who Jesus was. Andrew brought him to Jesus and Peter ended up becoming Jesus’ disciple, even the head of Jesus’ Church. This part of the Gospel teaches us that we are called to evangelize first the members of our families. The experience that we have with Jesus in the Eucharistic celebration, let us share it with our brothers and sisters, inviting and helping them to come to Church and have the same experience with Jesus.

As Andrew did to Simon Peter, Eli did the same thing to the young Samuel in our first reading. At night, God called Samuel three times while he was sleeping. Each time Samuel went to his spiritual master Eli thinking that it was he who was calling him. For the first two times, Eli sent him back to sleep, telling him that he did not call him. For the third time, Eli understood that it was God who was calling the young Samuel. He helped him to know how to answer God’s call. He told him, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” (1 Samuel 3: 9). Samuel did exactly as he was told. When the Lord called him again for the fourth time, Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (v. 10). God continues to call people today. You and I are the “Eli” of our time to help them discern and know how to answer God’s call.

The liturgy of this Mass teaches us that God continues to reveal himself until today. We are called to follow him and know why we follow him. To follow Jesus is conversion and mission. May this Mass enable each one of us here to be the true disciples of Jesus.

As we talk about calling other people to also follow Jesus as we do, I would like to tell you that tomorrow January 15th, we the Divine Word Missionaries, will celebrate the feast day of our founder, Saint Arnold Janssen. Born on November 5, 1837, in Goch (Germany), Arnold Janssen died on January 15, 1909.  He was beatified on October 19, 1975 and canonized a saint on October 5, 2003 by Pope John Paul II. His life was filled with a constant search for God’s will which led him to found three religious congregations, two of which are for women (the Servants of the Holy Spirits [the actives] and the Servants of the Holy Spirit of Perpetual Adoration [the Cloistered branch.]) and one for the Missionaries priests and brothers called in Latin Societas Vebi Divini which means “Society of the Divine Word”. I am one of them. We are well known as SVD priests and brothers. At last count in January 2024, we have 48 bishops, 3997 priests, 457 religious brothers, 133 Scholastics/deacons, 864 seminarians in temporary vows, and 255 novices working and studying throughout five continents. Both congregations of sisters count over 4200 sisters working around the world. Together, the bishops, priests, brothers, and sisters of our big religious family of Saint Arnold Janssen, we continue to invite people to know Jesus, follow him, and stay with him. I ask you to support and pray for our mission. Amen.

Rev. Leon Ngandu, SVD

 

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