Daily Reflection
January 19th, 2003
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
Psalm 40: 2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
John 1:35-42

By the use of our imaginations, we might be more open to the Word of God in today’s liturgy.  Jesus is walking through a village marketplace stopping now and then to purchase food and drink.  As he leaves, John, who had baptized Jesus in last week's Gospel reading, recognizes Jesus and with excitement remembers his having also heard the voice from heaven announcing Jesus as the “beloved.”

John releases his disciples and indicates that they follow Jesus and see what he has to offer them as meaningful for life.  The disciples are caught between what they know as familiar and the new, the unfamiliar to which John points them.  They begin following Jesus at a distance with some natural reluctance. 


We are at the beginning of the liturgical year and so it is fitting that we pray to be good listeners.  Jesus asks his first followers for what they are searching.  What a very good question to replace any New Year’s Resolutions we might have made and lately put aside.  We are given the freedom by God to pray for that for which we have deepest desires.  We ask God in today’s Opening Prayer “to show us the way to peace in the world.”  This is a deep prayer in these days of worldwide tensions and fears.  Perhaps we desire a deeper personal peace from our inner wars.  Only our hearts can tell us what to pray for and ask of God.  What are you looking for?  Where do you live, God?  We can pray to desire to know where Jesus lives and move slowly towards staying with him these days of the new year.


Samuel, in today’s First Reading has no problem about sleeping, but rather being awakened by a divine snooze alarm.  Eli is the holy man of the temple, but God is calling Samuel into his future mission.  After three distinct calls in which Samuel thinks his master Eli is beckoning him, Eli encourages Samuel not to come running to him, but to discern that God is calling and desires Samuel to wake up and listen.  This he does and grows up to be a good listener and proclaimer.  

John’s narrative of the events and meaning of Christ’s life begins with these two calling-stories we hear today.  John the Baptist has prophetically declared himself not to be the Christ and has publicly ordained Jesus in the waters of the Jordan to be what God has called him to be - The Anointed.  Today we watch and listen as Jesus begins his church.  The Greek name for “church” is literally “The Called.”  We hear two very good questions, which seem to be a necessary part of Church and call.  Jesus asks the two disciples of John who have begun literally to follow him about what they are looking for.  They respond with a question of their own; they want to know where Jesus stays.  He encourages them to find the answer themselves. They stayed with him that day.  It was the “first day” continuing the theme from Genesis; Christ is the “anointed” to be and effect the “new creation.”

The first act of God’s creating love was the separation between darkness and light.  Jesus’ entering human history as the “light” is the beginning of God’s completing the blessing of this world through the Covenants.  God continues seeing creation as “very good.”

The two who ask where Jesus is staying ask on behalf of all of us.  They discover that Jesus is staying and has come to stay with us, having “pitched his tent among us.”  They came, they saw and they were “mysteriorised.”

On the “second day” in Genesis, there was separation, the earth with its waters and the heavens.  On the second day of John’s Gospel, Andrew, one of the new followers of Jesus finds his brother, Cephas, whom he brings to Jesus.  Jesus announces a separation by calling Cephas by a new name, “Peter”, which means “Rock.”  Peter then begins his slow separation from being of the earth towards being of the heavens.  God also saw that it was all “very good.”

Samuel, Andrew, Peter, and even John the Baptist were not given road maps or Owner's Manuals to accompany their being summoned.  They all received “wake-up calls” in various ways.  We are being dealt with by a God of the unlikely who creates out of nothing, calls the sleeping, invites the curious and chooses the “rocks” upon which to bring about the new creation.  With all that, this unlikely God does not project clearly.  All are called from the known, but the “to where” and the “how to” are not even hinted at.     
The “familiar” can be the most secure prison. The known has such a comfort no matter how hard the “familiar” may be.  C. S. Lewis in the first of his Screwtape Letters has the devil write his nephew who is trying to keep a particular soul from trusting god, “Keep pressing upon him the importance of the familiar.” The “old Creation” has past away and Jesus begins the redemption, the re-creation, by inviting the “called” into the unknown and in Peter’s case, a new identity and name.

“I waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.” Psalm 40

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