Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
-1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19
-Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
-1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Christmas has come to an end, with its light, celebration, and joy. After the preparatory season of Advent and the brief season of Christmas, we have resumed Ordinary Time. “Ordinary” can seem to have a negative connotation, as though it is nothing special. Yet this word “ordinary” is not meant to be in contrast to “special,” but it refers rather to the “ordinal” numbers. We are counting our weeks with Jesus – that daily and weekly journey.
While the Church counts the weeks of this Ordinary Time, we are immersed in extraordinary times in our country. The Covid pandemic rates continue to be catastrophically high, with death rates also at an all-time high. And in the meantime, we have witnessed the dramatic violence in our nation’s Capitol Building, including both severe injury and death.
These circumstances undoubtedly create stress and anxiety for many of us, as well as anger and fear. It’s no surprise that we jump to defend or explain our side of the growing polarization in our country. We have to respond to these events, to fight for the truth…not that we need any instigation. Most of us already feel this way.
Our readings for this Sunday are also about response and action, but of a different sort that we often push to the side when we are so caught up in our own calamities and the many people that offend us by so clearly being wrong.
The call of Samuel, featured in our first reading, is no doubt a famous story, as is the story of Andrew bringing his brother Simon (who will later be called Peter) to Jesus. In both cases, we see a readiness to respond to God’s call. Samuel heard the call, jumped up, and answered. His “here I am, Lord, I come to do your will,” is echoed in today’s psalm. Simon Peter also shows a readiness to respond, not protesting, but easily going along with his brother to meet Jesus.
There is an African proverb that states, “The one who wishes to receive a coconut must catch it with his hands, not his head.” To answer God’s call readily, we must have a disposition, an openness to hear that call and to respond to it. As our second reading today says, our bodies are members of the body of Christ, and temples of the Holy Spirit.
With our current circumstances, it is easy to neglect such a disposition of receptiveness – the ready response to God’s call. We are too busy explaining why others are wrong and we are right. We are so consumed in our fight for truth that we forget that foundational relationship that transforms all these human relationships. We are children of God, made in the image and likeness of God, and redeemed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
And those who annoy us, offend us, jeopardize our earthly government, etc. are also children of God, our brothers and sisters deserving of love, respect, and compassion. As we continue to muddle through these difficult situations, we might ask ourselves how we can better cultivate a ready response to God’s call, with a willingness to love even our enemies.