January 14, 2024
Lectionary Readings:1 Sm 3:3b-10. 19; Ps. 40, 2. 4. 7-10;1 Cor 6:13-15. 17-20; Jn 1:35-42
Theme: “God’s call and our response“
|The readings tell us about God’s calls at different times in our salvation history – from the time before there were kings of Israel, to the time of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and to the time of the first Christian churches as in Corinth. Altogether, they tell us of God’s initiative to make personal connection with the people, again and again. They also tell us of people who have acted as the facilitator between the caller and the called.
In the Gospel’s story of Jesus’ call of the first disciples, Andrew and another disciple of John followed Jesus after they heard John say, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” (Jn 1:36) and Simon Peter went to Jesus after he was told Jesus was the Messiah. The first two disciples and Simon Peter found and followed Jesus after someone pointed to them who Jesus is – the Lamb of God and the Messiah.
The Lamb of God is an important faith concept underscoring the Israelites’ belief in the Pesach. In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Israelites had to put the blood of the lamb as special sign on their doorsposts for the angel of death to skip or pass over their homes (Exo 12:13-28). John had told his disciples, Jesus is the ultimate Lamb of God who symbolically not only covered the sins of Israelite household but took away the sin of the entire world (Jn 1:29). On the other hand, the coming of the Messiah – the Christ or the “Anointed,” who is to free Israel from oppression among other things, has been most awaited.
The response of Andrew to Jesus’ call, “Come, and you will see.” (Jn 1:29) includes: to go with Jesus, stay with him, proclaim Jesus as the Messiah he has found and to bring others (his brother Simon Peter) to Jesus (Jn 1:39-42).
In the First Reading, we learn that the young Samuel answered God on the fourth time he was called with this popular verse, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:10). He replied only after he was told by Eli, the priest, that it was God who had called him. His response as taught by Eli tells us that the willingness to listen as a “servant” is most important to truly hear.
In the Second Reading, we learn of Paul’s call to be holy by avoiding sin and saying no to immorality. He taught our “bodies are members of Christ” and that the “body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Paul said that the call from God is for believers to be one Spirit with the Lord. From Paul’s exhortation, we can hear God’s call to live upright lives and with a clean body – one that is free from sin and immorality and respected as a temple that gives glory to God, a worthy member of the body of Christ.
In all, we can see that God initiates the first call. As stated in the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matt 22:14), many are called but few are chosen. Not everyone can be Samuel, Andrew and Paul who got personal calls from God and were able to respond to his call very well.
But in a sense, we can call a friend and have an Eli, a John, an Andrew or a Paul who can teach us about God and lead us to God. Moreover, we can be like them. By being willing to listen and find God’s voice in our life, by seeking people and the church that can tell us more about God, by sharing our faith and witnessing through honest and upright lives, we too can hear the message to give glory to God and honor Jesus as our savior. We can be a version of both the called and the caller to others.
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Have you experienced a call you believe is from God? If yes, what have you done in response to the call? 2. What are ways you can do to bring others to God?
Bibliography: Moloney, Sacra Pagina Series: The Gospel of John (Minnesota: 1998); Vargas, Word and Witness: An Introduction to the Gospel of John (Philippines: 2013)
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Bat Kol Alumna July 2014 and July 2013