Deacon Sil's Word For All “Called By Name”
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) January 16, 2000
First Reading (1 Samuel 3: 3-10, 19)
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The Lord called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am." He ran to Eli and said, "Here I am. You called me." "I did not call you," Eli said. "Go back to sleep." So he went back to sleep. Again the Lord called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. "Here I am," he said. "You called me." But he answered, "I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep." At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord, because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet. The Lord called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" when Samuel went to sleep in his place, the Lord came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening." Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
Responsorial Psalm: (Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-10)
Refrain: Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will. 1) I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God. 2) Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, "Behold I come." 3) "In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight, And your law is within my heart!" 4) I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O Lord, know.
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 6: 13-15, 17-20)
The body is not for immorality; it is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. God, who raised up the Lord, will raise us also by his power. Do you not see that your bodies are members of Christ? Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun lewd conduct. Every other sin a man commits is outside his body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within -- the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have been purchased, and at what a price! So glorify God in your body.
Gospel (John 1: 35-42)
John was in Bethany across the Jordan with two of his disciples. As he watched Jesus walk by he said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard what he said, and followed Jesus. When Jesus turned around and noticed them following him, he asked them, "What are you looking for?" They said to him, "Rabbi (which means Teacher), where do you stay?" "Come and see," he answered. So they went to see where he was lodged, and stayed with him that day. (It was about four in the afternoon.) One of the two who had followed him after hearing John was Simon Peter's brother Andrew. The first thing he did was seek out his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah!" (which means the Anointed). He brought him to Jesus, who looked at him and said, "You are Simon, son of John; your name shall be Cephas (which is rendered Peter)."
Homily Called By Name
If we could summarize the lesson of today's gospel reading for us in one sentence it might come out something like this: Jesus has called us each by name in our hearts to be his disciples. Let us consider why this is so. First of all, it is Jesus who calls us. But who is Jesus? Jesus is God in human flesh. At Jesus' baptism, which we heard about last week, the Divine Trinity was revealed to us since the voice of the Father approved of the work of his Son, Jesus Christ, who was then empowered by the Spirit. So therefore God in all three persons approves of all that our Lord does in God's name. Therefore, when we speak of Jesus, we can really speak of God: Jesus and God are synonymous. So it is Jesus who calls us. What does it mean to be called? The English word comes from the Greek word kaleo and means to command or request to be present, to come. For example, someone is called to testify in court. It can also mean to speak of or address by a specified name, or to give a name to someone. We will discuss names in a little while. But before we leave the word call, I should point out that the Latin word for call is vocare from which we get the word "vocal", as in vocal cords, a part of the body we use to speak. From vocare we also get the word vocation, which means a calling to a particular occupation, business or profession. In the church, we use the word primarily to mean a vocation to religious life, to the priesthood, to the diaconate or to some other ministry in the church. So Jesus calls us. Who exactly are we whom he calls? We are ordinary persons, just like his disciples. The disciples were simple folk, fishermen of which there were many near the Sea of Galilee, ordinary people. They weren't the learned of their day, or wealthy. They lived simple, ordinary lives, just like we do. He comes to us exactly where we are. My wife and I were recently watching the TV and happened on an old movie called The Left Hand of God. It was about a renegade pilot who was shot down over China during World War II and is captured by a local robber baron. Eventually, he escapes and flees to a small Chinese village where he assumes the identity of a dead priest. As time goes on, he comes to be loved by the people who have not had a priest for several years. The change that occurs in Humphrey Bogart, who plays the pilot, as he assimilates the persona of the priest is astounding. It struck me that God will use everyone, right where they are, to accomplish his purposes. So it is that Jesus calls us, just as he called the ordinary fishermen of his day. So Jesus calls us each one by name. What is in a name? It is the distinctive designation of a person or thing. It is the opposite of something which is nameless, anonymous, or indistinguishable from something else which is just like it. It is the ultimate sign of respect. It always drives me crazy when I interact with people who know my name but don't use it. I feel it reduces me to the status of anyone in the nameless crowd, someone we meet on the street. I even have been known to get upset with my children when they don't address me as their father. That is why I try so hard to get to know all of you by name, which of course leads me into some embarrassing situations. In any case, it is God who calls us each by name in the depths of our hearts. Conversely, knowing God's name (Yahweh) gives us a certain degree of power to be able to address him personally (he can't ignore us when we call). In today's gospel, John uses names throughout the reading. John sees Jesus and refers to him as the Lamb of God. When Jesus sees the disciples following him and asks them what they are looking for, they address him as "Rabbi". Then Andrew finds his brother Simon and tells him that he has found the Messiah, or the Anointed. Finally, our Lord speaks to Simon and calls him Peter. None of these people are addressed impersonally as "hey, you". No, they are people with a distinct identity. God does not address us impersonally either. He calls us each by name. So it is Jesus who calls us, each one of us. How does God call us, each one of us? He doesn't ask us to come to him in a group. No, he speaks to us individually in our hearts. There is a story I have used in the past which I can't resist repeating here.
A four-year old girl was at the pediatrician's office for a check-up. As the doctor looked into her ears with an otoscope, he asked her "Do you think that I'll find Big Bird in here?" The little girl remained silent. Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her throat. He asked her "Do you think I'll find the Cookie Monster down here?" Again, the girl did not answer him. Finally, the doctor put a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her heartbeat, he asked "Do you think I'll hear Barney in here?" At that, the little girl looked up with her eyes wide and said "Oh, no. Jesus is in my heart; Barney's on my underpants. (1)
God no longer speaks to us in a voice that we can hear, as he spoke to Samuel in our first reading. And since he can no longer call us physically, as he did his first disciples, Jesus calls to us in the depths of our hearts. So he calls us each by name to be his disciples. What is a disciple? It means a follower, one who has grasped another's teachings. The fact that you are here today means that you are eager to grasp his teachings. Why is this important? Because they can make a significant difference in your life. Another word for disciple which we heard in the first reading is "servant". Now this is a word that is near and dear to my heart. In 1996, I was ordained as a deacon in the Diocese of Trenton. Now the English word deacon comes from the Greek word diakonos, which means servant. So, deacons are servants of the church of God. Speaking of the diaconate, discipleship can take many forms, one of which could be a special calling to the religious life, priesthood or diaconate. If you've thought about the priesthood, talk to one of our priests about it. If you're married and have a family, but have thought about the diaconate, let's talk. I, or one of the other deacons, would be more than willing to share our feelings with you. For the single women, perhaps you feel a calling to the religious life. Talk to one of the nuns in our school. So Jesus calls us each by name to be his disciples. But recognizing the call is another story. In our first reading today, God called Samuel three times (by name you notice) before Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling Samuel. Next week we will be discussing Jonah's reaction to God's call which was anything but wholehearted. Each of us has to look deeply into our own hearts and discern how Jesus is speaking to us. And once we've heard his voice, we need to respond as Samuel did: "Here I am, Lord; your servant is listening. I come to do your will."
1. Barney, from A Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, copyright 1996 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, p. 81. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, FL. (This resource, as well as many others including a specially-priced package of the Chicken Soup books, is available at a discount through the Homiletic Resource Center.) (Copyright January 4, 2000 by the Spirit through Deacon Sil Galvan, with a little help from the friends noted above. Permission is freely granted for use, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For permission to use in writing, please contact the human intermediary at email@example.com.)
In last week's gospel, Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. At that time, the Holy Spirit entered into Jesus. Mark uses two Greek words to describe the Spirit's descent to Jesus: eis auton. These two words might better be translated as "into him", rather than just "to him". Mark uses these words because he wants his readers to understand that from this moment on, Jesus and his ministry are empowered by the living presence of the Holy Spirit. This is especially evident if we begin to read the next verse in Mark's gospel which follows the text we heard last week: "Immediately, the Spirit drove him into the desert". We do not know for sure how much Jesus knew about his destiny before this moment, but there is no doubt that after this event, he knew what his mission was to be.
How about those unkind comments about one another we so flippantly cast off? They don't help matters any. One writer put it this way: "God put you here for something more than to get out of here. Creation is still happening and the Creator wishes you to become a part of it. So, do something. Make love a present force. Make peace a possibility. Make justice more abundant in human affairs than even the water that pours over a waterfall. Let righteousness spread over the land." We have to look into our own hearts and see how we can foster love, not division. (from Short Homily, by Rev. Joseph Nolan. Liturgical Publications, Inc., 2875 South James Drive, New Berlin, WI 53151.)
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) January 16, 2000 Penitential Rite
Lord Jesus, you are the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you revealed yourself, not to the rich and the wise, but to ordinary fishermen. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you have called us each by name to be your disciples. Lord, have mercy.
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B) January 16, 2000 Prayers of the Faithful
Celebrant: In today's readings, we recalled how God called Samuel to his service and how Christ called his first disciples. Because he has first loved us and has called each of us to follow him, we can confidently bring our prayers and petitions before him. Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer." That the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the bishops, priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders of the Church who have selflessly answered God's call to service, we pray to the Lord. That the leaders of the nations of the world will treat all of those entrusted to their care with justice and respect, we pray to the Lord. That the sick, the terminally ill and those who are grieving the loss of a loved one will place their cares in the hands of the one who first called them to follow him, we pray to the Lord. That the Holy Spirit may lead additional members of our parish family to participate in the Renew 2000 Small Christian Communities during the upcoming season, we pray to the Lord. For all of the intentions which we hold in our hearts and which we now recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord. Celebrant: Gracious God, your Son has called us to be his disciples and to follow his ways. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to always remain faithful to his call and to willingly accept the changes which answering his call will cause in our lives. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.