SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (2021)
Readings:1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-101 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20John 1:35-42
The gospel for this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time virtually picks up from where our Synoptic gospel left off on last week’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In John’s gospel we are by the side of the Jordan River where the Baptist is standing with two of his disciples, one of whom was soon to become the “apostle” Andrew. John the Baptist, who was quick to tell his followers that he was not the Messiah, has already given testimony that Jesus is the “lamb of God,” the “Son of God.”
The two disciples in answer to Jesus’ question, “What are you looking for?” (the first words Jesus speaks in the Gospel of John). The question of Jesus would also be asked of those who came to arrest Him in the Garden, and also asked of Mary Magdalen after His Resurrection. The disciples answer, “Rabbi where are you staying?” It is not so much a question of “Where do you live?,” but more a question of where does Jesus “remain,” where does He “abide,” where can His heart be found. There must have been an element of “love at first sight,” for the disciples “went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with Him that day.” It was enough to convince Andrew to go and find his brother, Simon, who was told by Andrew that “we have found the Messiah.” When Andrew brought Simon to Jesus, Jesus saw something in Simon that He knew was lasting, and so He said to him, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas – which is translated Peter.”
And so the spread of early Christianity begins. The next day Jesus finds Philip, someone from the same town as Andrew and Peter, and then Philip finds Nathanael, and so on. Jesus could read the hearts (Jn. 1:49) of those who were drawn to Him, and the new disciples, while never being able to assess the full import of what they were doing, were inexorably drawn to this man from Nazareth who they truly believed could be the Messiah. This began the process of falling in love with the Lord, at whose side they would stay until He was taken from their midst. For three years Jesus would teach them, but more importantly He would love them and show them what was expected of them.
In a far more abbreviated fashion, our first reading from the first Book of Samuel, reveals a similar process. The young boy Samuel, an in-Temple altar server of sorts, is unable to tell the difference between God’s voice and the voice of Eli. After several moments of confusion, with the help of Eli, the chief priest who finally understands what is going on, Samuel is able to tell the difference between Eli and the actual voice of God who comes to Samuel in his sleep. Not unlike the disciples in today’s gospel reading, Samuel is able to hear something different in the temper of the voice he hears, and it is love at first sight: “Speak, for your servant is listening,” and Samuel would grow into the prophet that God desired him to be.
Our faith can be measured by how much we have fallen in love with Jesus. It may not always be love at first sight, for it may take time for the wisdom of what Jesus teaches to truly overwhelm us, and cause us to say with the Psalm response, “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” It will take a great deal of humility to come to that point, for the human condition causes us to often think that we know what is best for ourselves. Indeed, the Savior could be standing in front of us, and the human condition could cause us to be blind to His manifestation, for He comes to us not with the heavens breaking open or on fiery clouds, for God comes to us in the ordinary people who speak what is true, who manifest the compassion of our Savior, who exercise justice, and who promote peace. God comes to us in the ordinary events of each and every day – in a line waiting for the vaccine, at the check-out at the grocery store, in the people begging for food on the side of the road, in the selflessness of hospital workers, whether doctors or bed pan specialists, in those who clean our shopping carts that we might be able to shop safely. The more we listen to the Word of God revealed to us in Scripture, the more we will fall deeply in love with the God who created us, and who sent His only Son into our world that we might be saved. We are in a long line of prophets, priests, and disciples, who have answered God’s call to follow Him. It is up to us, as they have done before us, to simply answer: “Hear am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”