The 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – 17 January 2021
Lectionary Readings: 1 Sam 3:3B-10, 19; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10; 1 Cor 6:13C-15A, 17-20; John 1:35-42
Theme: Call- Revelation-Transformation-Testimony
wish to focus on the above process of call- revelation- transformation- testimony. In the First Reading, Samuel was called from his sleep while not yet knowing that it was God who was calling him. Eli, realizing it was God, advised him to respond: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” The call of Samuel and God’s manifestation transformed him into a prophet, bearing God’s word, which was going to challenge and shape the life of the people of Israel.
Similarly, the first disciples experienced the call through the testimony of John the Baptist who drew their attention to Jesus by calling out: “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two persons who followed Jesus did not recognize John’s “theological proposition.” They first recognized Jesus as “Rabbi,” a religious teacher. Only after staying with Jesus did they begin to realize that they had found and met the “Messiah.” During their meeting, they were transformed and their realization was what they carried as a testimony to Peter: “We have found the Messiah!”
The different ‘identities’ of Jesus are all within the Jewish milieu or context. The term, “Lamb of God,” a very important phrase in the Christian tradition, is not found as a phrase in the Hebrew Scriptures but used as a metaphor by John. In Isaiah 53:7, the “lamb” is used as a simile. Allusions to the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 and the scapegoat in Leviticus 16:8-10 could be discerned in the phrase and were interpreted allegorically by succeeding generations of Christians. (I must say that this is a good example of using the learning about metaphor, simile, allusion, and allegory! My English teacher would be delighted!) These are also examples of how Christians appropriated symbols available to them from the Hebrew Scriptures, giving them new meanings.
The meaning of the term, “Rabbi” has evolved and would not be the same as the modern usage referring to Jewish persons who obtained semicha (rabbinic ordination). Kostenberger affirms Jesus’ Jewish milieu: “Jesus’ verbal instruction to his disciples and others is clearly consistent with his Jewish environment. His use of the Scriptures, his ‘rabbinic rulings,’ his style of argumentation, and even language place him squarely within a Jewish rabbinic context.” [Kostenberger, 115] We can assume, then, that the transformation that happened in the first disciples was because they listened to the teachings of the one they called Rabbi. They saw that he was the Messiah and this was the message that Andrew delivered to Peter. Messiah, as a term, has various interpretations. What were the expectations of Andrew and Peter, in particular? How did the author of John’s Gospel understand the term? How did their contemporaries understand the term? This brings complexity to the word, “Messiah.” It is more appropriate to say that Christians adopted a particular interpretation and messianic expectations different from that of Judaism and the difference must be respected.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How do I allow myself to be transformed by new insights? 2. Have I experienced a life-changing insight during my life? Recall this experience.
Bibliography: Kostenberger, A. Jesus as Rabbi In the Fourth Gospel, http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.464.1390&rep=rep1&type=pdf; Bergant, Preaching the New Lectionary Year B (Collegeville: 1999).
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Sr. Petite Lao, RNDM, Canada/Philippines, Bat Kol Alumna 2010, 2014, 2019
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