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Contents: Volume 2 - 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – B – January 14, 2018


 

The

2nd

Sunday

2018

1. -- Lanie LeBlanc OP

2. -- Barbara Cooper, OP

3. -- Carol & Dennis Keller

4. -- Brian Gleeson CP

5. -- Paul O'Reilly SJ

6.. (Your reflection can be here!)

 

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Sunday 2 B 2018

In our second reading, we hear that "you have been purchased at a price." That is a profound statement that, I think, we do not give its full value. We rightly honor soldiers and first responders who give their lives for others in our society. How those closer to their community, who are the extended family of the hero/heroine, continue to be present to those who served so bravely is a lesson for us all.

The question becomes then, how do we respond to our Gift, eternal life, won for us by Jesus? In our first reading, Samuel shows us the way. We need to be ready and willing to serve the Lord. We sometimes need a reminder that Jesus chooses how we are needed to serve rather than we checking out the "how" with Jesus after it seems to fit into our plans.

The Gospel story according to John also gives us some ideas. We need to be alert like John to our surroundings and respond to opportunities with eyes of awareness. We also need to be willing to "stay" and learn about not only the doctrines of love and service but about the people who need that love and service the most. We also need to share the Good News we discover as Andrew did with Peter. (Side thought: thinking about where our Church might be without Peter or without the sharing of these first responders to the faith might give us some impetus to share a bit more easily and often with others.)

These are simple ways but ones that may slip by us in our complacency. Sometimes we get lulled into an all too familiar routine. Good work for the Lord is good but... better is, well, better. Of course, the best is what Jesus chooses for us. "Speak, Lord, I am listening."

Blessings,

Dr. Lanie LeBlanc OP

Southern Dominican Laity

lanie@leblanc.one

 

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Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - B – January 14, 2018

The disciples of John the Baptizer are searching, waiting for the Messiah, the one who would redeem Israel. One day, John points two of them in the direction of Jesus.

"When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, "What are you looking for?"

They say: "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"

"Come," Jesus replied, "and you will see."

Do you hear that question deep within yourself: What do you want? What are you looking for? What are the deepest yearnings of your heart? Could you make a list of them as big as the Encyclopedia Britannica? Or would they simply fill a post-it note? The mother of three or four little children might want some peace and quiet time for herself. A refugee would yearn for a safe place to live. An unemployed person aches for dignified and meaningful employment. We all have needs, and wants, that cry out for fulfillment.

But I think the question goes deeper, especially when Jesus asks it. Then the question is: "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?" - Which is a very interesting question!

I might have asked about some point of theology, or the Scriptures, or Jesus' plans to bring about God's Kingdom as I envision it, and if he has a different understanding of what it means, and then ask "what" or "why"? Nice rational, "head" questions.

But these two disciples invite themselves home for tea. That's not an interview, that's the beginning of a relationship.

And Jesus welcomes them.

We are called. We are welcomed without "conditions". Jesus doesn't give a test to check if we are kosher. We don't have to run home, clean ourselves up, and put on our best outfit and our social "airs".

If what we are looking for is to live in God's Presence, perhaps all we need to do is quiet our heart, open our ears, and listen. Perhaps have a cup of tea with Jesus, and stay for supper.

Barbara Cooper, OP

Vancouver Island, BC Canada

bcoop60@yahoo.com

 

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Second Sunday of Ordinary Time January 14 2018

1st Samuel 3:3-10 &19; Responsorial Psalm 40; 1st Corinthians 6:13-5 & 17-20; Gospel Acclamation John 1:41; John 1:35-42

It seems as though we’ve missed a Sunday. Last Sunday we celebrated the grand feast of the Epiphany. That was the commemoration of the presence of God among humankind in the person of the God-Man Jesus. The story we heard about the magi coming from a foreign country to honor this new born king expands the presence of God throughout the entire world beyond the Jews. The reading from Matthew does not indicate how many magi there were – stories from tradition have varying numbers up to twelve. Over time tradition settled on three as representing the three regions of the then known world. The three gifts also support the number three for the magi but more significantly indicate the life of this child: gold indicates his kingship, frankincense his divinity, and myrrh his death. Myrrh is a spice used in those times in preparation of the deceased for burial.

The feast of Epiphany on the traditional calendar is January 6th. But we celebrate it on the Sunday following the feast of the Holy Family. So it takes over from the first Sunday of Ordinary Time which is the celebration of the Baptism of Jesus by his cousin John the Baptist. That is why we begin ordinary time with the second Sunday instead of a first.

The schedule of readings throughout the liturgical year is a continual lesson plan which leads disciples forward to the final Sunday. That Sunday is the celebration of Christ the King. If we have been paying attention to the lesson-plan and have taken those lessons to heart and applied them to our daily life we will have become solid citizens in a kingdom shepherded by that king. That kingdom is not in some heaven far away, but already here, already now. When the creative work of the Father is completed, when all creation has reached its fullness, then the King will come to claim the work accomplished by his disciples. Missing a Sunday of the liturgy of the Word is like skipping class.

This Sunday’s readings are stories about being called to discipleship in the kingdom of God. The first reading from Samuel tells us of Samuel’s call to discipleship. As the intern in the temple at Bethel, Samuel’s task would have been to keep the oil lamp burning during the night. This was a symbol of God’s continual presence lighting the way to the footsteps of the chosen people, a lamp unto their feet. Samuel would wake every few hours to tend to the oil lamp. When Samuel heard a voice calling him, he couldn’t make much sense of it. He thought it was the priest Eli calling him for some purpose. Eli denied calling him and probably became more than a little irritated at the interruption of his sleep as grumpy old men do. Finally it dawned on Eli that perhaps this was not a trick, this was not the imaginings of an impressionable young boy. Eli’s instruction to young Samuel was to respond to the voice, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." In this Sunday’s reading we don’t hear the Lord’s message. We skip right over that to a statement that Samuel was received as a prophet for the Lord. What the vision informed Samuel was that Eli’s family would be destroyed because Eli’s sons had stolen the sacrifices the people offered the Lord and used them for their own benefit.

The message from the book of Samuel for us, however, is that when the Lord speaks to us, we should listen. The Responsorial Psalm’s antiphon should be our constant prayer, our mantra: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will!" That is the response of a disciple of the Lord.

The difficulty of such a response to the Lord should be apparent to each of us. If we listen to the Lord, what will it require of us? If we follow in the pathway of the Lord, what shall we then have, what joys will come to our lives? It seems as though when we follow the Christ we give up everything. Who can do such a thing? Who has the will-power to become a Frances of Assisi? Who can shrug off the pleasures of the world for the sake of following Jesus to the Cross? Well, the Cross does lead to the empty tomb, to resurrection, doesn’t it? How are we certain that the inner voice we hear when we are quiet is truly the voice of the Lord? Who among us is a mystic, who among us is has the capacity to leave the world and retire to a monastery or convent? Does the call of the Lord not apply to us?

In the gospel reading this Sunday, we listen to John’s account of the first disciples following Jesus. Two of them, Andrew and another were with the Baptist. The Baptist pointed out Jesus and called him the Lamb of God. To us, this sounds like a strange thing, to call a man a lamb. But to a practicing Jew, that identification reminded them of the prophecies of Isaiah. The word used for "lamb" is also the word to identify "servant." Isaiah spoke of the servant of God who would be the messiah. So these two, Andrew and another who is John the writer of this gospel, followed after Jesus. Jesus turns to them and asks them, "what are you looking for?" When we hear this question of Jesus, we should look into our hearts as if Jesus is asking us that as well. Remember, this second Sunday of ordinary time is our call to discipleship. What is it that we are looking for? Is it a Mercedes, a new and larger house, a solid bank account, retirement, finances for the kids’ education – what are we looking for? If we think of this and find we’re looking only for things, for control over our lives, for wealth to provide for a worry-free life then perhaps we’re looking for satisfaction in places where there is only passing happiness. New cars get flat tires, houses need to be repaired, money is quickly lost and used up by unforeseen issues. What are we looking for? What is there that will make us happy?

Andrew and John respond to Jesus with a strange answer. "Where do you live?" What a strange answer to such an important question! "Where do you live?" How do we interpret that question? Are they merely looking for Jesus’s house? Are they looking for a free meal, a place to spend the night? Do they only want to see what sort of assets this "Lamb of God" has? Are they looking to discover what sort of weapons arsenal this erstwhile Messiah has collected? What? What is this about?

If we look at this dialogue from the perspective of discipleship to the Lord, we can answer those questions. Andrew and John were hanging out with the Baptist, trying to understand his vision of the coming Kingdom of God. The Baptizer called the people to a change of heart – "repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand." There had been many leaders in Israel beginning with Moses and leading to judges, kings, and eventually to the Maccabees. What sort of kingdom is this of which the Baptizer speaks? This is the Kingdom of God – a place that is more than geographic. It is a place in the hearts and minds of humanity. It is the place where God speaks to us. It is the place where Jacob, fearful of Esau’s wrath, used a rock as a pillow and dreams of a ladder reaching to the heavens, a ladder on which angels ascend and descend. Angels are, after all, the messengers of God – those who speak to us of God’s intention and care. So what are we looking for? What is the most intimate and intense longing we experience? The things we can accumulate, the power we might wield, the influence we claim, and the pleasures we might enjoy are all very passing events. Where can we live in complete happiness? That is the quest Andrew and John are looking for. Peter is called to the quest by his brother Andrew. And the journey begins for them.

This Sunday sets up the scene for the rest of our liturgical year. Sundays, from now till we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, are days of God’s communication to and with us. Each Sunday we hear from the Hebrew and the Christian writings about God’s continual intervention in human life. Each Sunday we hear homilists break open those words and apply them to our lives in this the twenty-first century since the birth of the Lord. These Words, these explanations are seeds planted within our hearts and our minds. When we reflect on those words, our hearts and minds lead us to apply the message to the work of our living. As we apply those words to our work, our work informs us of God’s living message and we grow. As we grow, the Kingdom of God grows in us and through us the Kingdom is spread though out the entire universe. God speaks to us as to Samuel. To each of us, God speaks. If we listen, if we respond to the speaking of God, we will come to the end of this year different, more mature in as Disciples of the Lord.

God does speak to each of us. How do we know if it’s God or merely our ego responding to the efforts of the evil one? The Word of God proclaimed to us and explained to us is our measure for discernment. Our discipleship is not meant to be a closet matter. It is "where we live." It is the energy that gives us a full and happy life. Even though human living contains many crosses, the Word of God promises us there will always be a resurrection. Because the over-riding message of the gospels is "God loves us!"

"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"

Carol & Dennis Keller dkeller002@nc.rr.com

 

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INTRODUCTIONS: 2ND SUNDAY B

The time is the 11th century before Christ. The place is the shrine in the small town of Shiloh in ancient Israel. It houses the ark of God containing the Ten Commandments. The high priest is Eli, now very old and almost totally blind. A little boy called Samuel is asleep in the shrine. His mother has waited and prayed so long for his arrival, that in gratitude she has given him to the service of the shrine. The child helps with the religious services and looks after Eli, his patron and protector.

Three times in one night the boy hears a voice calling his name: ‘Samuel, Samuel.’ Three times he thinks that it’s the old priest calling out to him. Each time the high priest tells him that he did not call him, and sends him back to bed. But on the third occasion this happens, Eli instructs the child: ‘if someone calls [you] say: ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening.’ This is exactly what Samuel says the fourth time that God calls his name.

What faith-filled words they are! In that one short sentence Samuel is recognising God as the Lord and Master of his life, that God is calling him to be something and do something, and that the expected and correct response to the voice of God is to both hear and heed God’s call. So, in a word, Samuel’s response, ‘speak Lord, your servant is listening’, is all about vocation. It’s a call and response to do something special for God, or in the words of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, to do ‘something beautiful for God’.

In the scheme of things, then, Eli’s place was to introduce Samuel and others to the Lord, and to their new vocation and role. In time Samuel will grow up to be the last of the great judges in Israel and the first of the king-makers.

In today’s gospel we see John the Baptist introducing two of his own disciples to Jesus, and therefore to their new future with the one whom John identifies as ‘the lamb of God’. That future will be staying in the company of Jesus and following him – living his values and teachings and imitating his ways. So John the Baptist has pointed away from himself in order to persuade others to walk with Jesus. In fact, then, in today’s gospel incident the Baptist is running the first introduction agency for those on the lookout for the coming of the Messiah.

One of the two disciples whom the Baptist introduces to Jesus is Andrew. As a result, he leaves his leader, John, to walk with Jesus as his new leader. But he would not be making this brand new start without the Baptist pointing him in this new direction. And what the Baptist does for Andrew, Andrew in turn does for his brother, Simon. Andrew shares with Simon his experience of meeting Jesus the Messiah, and introduces Simon to Jesus.

None of us goes on our own to Our Lord. When we reflect on the beginnings of our own faith in Jesus Christ and of our own particular personal relationship with him, we remember the people who introduced us to Jesus. Most of us can think of a particular person, our mother or father e.g., a priest or one of our teachers, who on our journey of life enabled us to begin our journey of faith.

Access to Jesus is always through other people. As Christians in our community here today, we have all come to Jesus by way of generations of Christians who have shared with us their own experiences of Jesus. In their turn they were introduced to him by others. So, as a popular song puts it: ‘We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us. They are saints and they are humans, they are angels, they are friends.’ The story of Christianity, in fact, is a story of a great chain of witnesses linked from the beginning through the apostles, to Jesus himself.

We too have to play our part in introducing others to Jesus. But we don’t have to be great missionaries in overseas countries to do this. If we believe that Jesus is worth knowing, we will bring others into his loving presence by our quiet witness to him day by day. By our being witnesses to Jesus, the Christian faith will keep growing and will never die out. Simply because someone somewhere, just like the apostle Andrew, will be bringing another person or several, to meet Jesus of Nazareth, the Saviour of the World.

What an appealing and heart-warming call, opportunity, and responsibility we have, then, you and I!

"Brian Gleeson CP" <bgleesoncp@gmail.com>

 

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Year B: 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Come and See."

Some years ago, a young English trainee journalist was invited to have the experience of going on the campaign of an American Presidential candidate. Like most trainee journalists, he had little respect for politicians (and not just American ones). He saw them as vain, boastful, proud men – and women, with few principles and even fewer scruples - sometimes corrupt, often complaisant, almost always deceitful. But he thought it would be good experience anyway, so he went. And, straightaway, his prejudices were confirmed. At every stop, every pause, even the slightest opportunity, the Candidate would rush around shaking hands, kissing babies, making grandiose speeches condemning his opponent with childish names and making unrealistic promises. And so it went on. And so the journalist had great fun writing snide articles about the shallow show-business show-boating of American political culture and how inferior it was to more mature European democracies.

But, after about a month, he said, something suddenly clicked and he saw the whole thing in a new way. He noticed that the Candidate and his team were quite genuine in their belief that the country needed the kind of leadership they wanted to offer. They were absolutely genuine in their commitment to the good of the Nation. They even had respect for their opponent and knew that he too was genuinely doing his best for the country according to his own beliefs. And he saw no corruption whatever – everyone from the Candidate, through the advisors, the canvassers and the countless other party workers could have earned more money, worked shorter hours, had more sleep and lower blood pressures by doing other things. Genuinely, each and every one of them was working for the good of the Nation according to her or his own lights. And for the great majority of them, they were doing this work not for any earthly reward but because it was what they believed God wanted of them in building up His Kingdom on earth.

Eventually, three days before the Election, everyone from the Candidate downwards realised that he was going to lose. And the cynical political reporter found himself weeping like a child for the first time in twenty years.

We too live in cynical times – almost as cynical as first century Palestine, when as far as we can gather almost all the public institutions were appallingly corrupt by any reasonable standard. That cynicism is the refusal to believe in the possibility of goodness in the world, the possibility of goodness in other people and even the possibility of goodness in ourselves. Because the motives we are willing to ascribe to other people actually tell us much more about the motives that are operating deep inside our own hearts.

I believe that kind of cynicism is very close to being a mental illness. It is an illness I sometimes see in my homeless, alcoholic and drug-addicted patients – a complete loss of faith in God, in humanity and in themselves. It is that, more than anything else, which destroys them – which deprives them of hope that they can be more and better than they are. And the only cure for such cynicism is the deep personal encounter with the goodness of God manifest in Christ Jesus.

"Come and See."

Let us stand and profess our Faith in God from whom all genuinely Good things come.

Dr Paul O’Reilly, SJ

<fatbaldnproud@opalityone.net>

 

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Volume 2 is for you. Your thoughts, reflections, and insights on the next Sundays readings can influence the preaching you hear. Send them to preacherexchange@att.net.  Deadline is Wednesday Noon. Include your Name, and Email Address.

-- Fr. John
 


 

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