Sunday, January 14, 2018

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time: God Calls, Listen!

The Christmas season is over and we are now in "Ordinary Time." Ordinary time is not just an "ordinary" period, so to speak. The Church gives this time this name just to distinguish between the days where we celebrate important Christ-centered days and regular days. However, this period is extraordinary in my opinion. It is during this time that we get more indepth in Scriptural readings, particular the teachings of Christ.


In the first reading, we read about Samuel who was sleeping in the temple of the Lord. God's house is a refuge for all. It is also our home. This is why we see Catholic Churches always open up church property to those who need help. Last year, a big fire broke out in my old Belmont neighborhood in the Bronx. Originally 12 perished, but a few weeks ago, another member of a family who lost almost everyone also passed after being in a coma. As the fire broke out and the tragedy was taking place, Father Morris, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was immediately on scene and offered help to victims. Another local parish, St. Martin of Tours teamed up with the NYPD's 48th precinct and started a goods-drive to help survivors. You can read more here:

God's house is a home for all. This was why Samuel was comfortable sleeping in the temple eventhough he was not familiar with the Lord, as we are told in the reading. God calls to him, but Samuel thinks it was Eli. Eli tells him to go back to sleep. God kept calling Samuel until Samuel realized that it was the Lord when Eli told him to say "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." Eli realized that God was calling Samuel and Samuel had to respond. When God calls, we must answer. Sometimes we do not realize it at first. We are told that Samuel grew up or matured. God was with him.  This passage reminds me of myself as an atheist and other atheists today. God is always calling us. Sometimes, we are so caught up in the world that we think it is someone else calling us; or something else. Many times, we hear of atheist scientists coming up with all kinds of explanations to refute, or attempt to refute, God's personal interaction with us. Atheist psychologists say that that "voice or perception of God" we experience is just man's brain giving agency to something due to stress or some other thing. We develop this defense mechanism in order to cope. Other scientists claim the universe appeared out of nowhere due to gravity and formed randomly without any God. I can go on and on. The truth is that we often put on a mental block that attempts to ignore God and attribute His callings to something natural. We go to "Eli," so to speak, instead of God. We must listen to God and say, "Here I am, your servant is listening." Afterwards, God will be with us and will guide us just as He did with Samuel.  God calls even the youth. Young people must never be afraid, ashamed or scared away from serving God (1 Timothy 4:12). They are an important part of the Catholic Church. 

The responsorial Psalm responds to the first reading with the phrase, "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will." This must be our words every day of our lives. In fact, this is the first prayer I say when I wake up even before I start the Liturgy of the Hours. I recommend that you use the same short prayer. It is short and simple, but very powerful and inspirational. God is always with us, but will not impose Himself on us. This is why He calls to us and we have the choice to answer. He hears our cries and all of our problems as the Psalm says. However, He will not intervene unless we give permission. I know it sounds strange. How can a mortal and finite creature give God permission?  God who made all things seen and unseen. This is just a reminder of how God is so humble and genuine. How He is so loving and merciful and truly loves us. His love is not manic or sick. It is pure love. It is Himself because He is love! God does not need us. He wants us!  He loves us.  In the second reading, we read that our bodies belong to God. Those baptized are part of the Body of Christ, the Catholic Church. We must care for our bodies and not abuse them. This means living as healthy as possible both spiritually and physically. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Think about this. The Holy Spirit dwells in us. That is awesome! When we have guests over at our homes, we often tidy up the place. We want our guests to feel comfortable in a clean and welcoming environment. Does the Holy Spirit deserve worse that this? I think not!  The Holy Spirit deserves the best tidiness we can offer. This is where the sacraments and prayer come in. We must be in a state of grace so that the Holy Spirit can have a beautiful temple to dwell in. We were purchased at a price as St. Paul says in this reading. This price was Christ shedding His blood on the Cross!  We must glorify God in our bodies. Today, many abuse the body with alcohol, drugs and other bad things. Others abuse the body by turning it into a sex show for others. Men go to gyms, women go to gyms to look "sexy" so they can appease others. This is not what our bodies are for. If God wanted humans to be "sexy" or have their goal to become "sexy," we would not age and fall apart. We would be ageless creatures. However, we know this is not the reality. We age, we get sick and fall apart. The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord.

Lastly, in the Gospel, we are introduced by St. John the Baptist to Jesus. The Monday after the Epiphany, we celebrated the Baptism of the lord. Today, we read about Jesus being described by John as the "Lamb of God." This phrase can be understood only via the Old Testament. After God stopped Abraham from sacrificing Isaac, He provided a sacrificial lamb (Genesis 22:8). This was a foreshadowing of Christ who is the Lamb God provided as the sacrifice. We all know what sacrifice this was. If you guessed the Cross, then you are correct! Jesus is the Lamb of God. When you go to Mass, focus on this phrase a little more. It has a lot of meaning behind it. It should remind us that Jesus is the pure Lamb that shed His blood for us. We are not worthy to come under His roof. He must say the word. He must call us like He did with Samuel in today's reading. Jesus is introduced to us in the Gospel for today. He is the Rabbi or teacher. He will guide us and educate us in God's ways. Jesus tells us, "Come, and you will see." He calls out to us. We must make the choice to follow Him. Listen to God's voice in your life now and each day. He calls out to you. Do not ignore Him. Do not attribute His calling to another agency. He truly calls you.  Come and see the Messiah whose birth we celebrated. He will not disappoint!  May Jesus Christ be praised. 

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