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Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
Homily. Readings: 1Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 39; 1Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42.

Green Stole and Gospel
Readings: 1Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 39; 1Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42

The liturgy of the second Sunday of the year traditionally completes the triple revelation of Jesus to the world ´today´ (see Sunday of the Epiphany, above; though only Year C has the wedding feast in Cana, it is always the beginning of St John´s Gospel that anchors this Sunday). In our year (Year B) the emphasis is on his revelation to the individual, who is called to encounter the Lord in a most personal way (First Reading and Gospel). Although the Second Reading on Sundays of Ordinary Time is a continuous reading of the Letters of St Paul and is not usually directed related to the Gospel and First Reading, the ´analogy of faith´[1] and the unity of Scripture imply that there are always various points of connection between the different aspects of the Christian mystery. In this case, one might point to the way in which Jesus, as God, when he names and calls an individual, "takes over" that person in such a manner that from then on he "belongs" to the Lord in a new and even deeper fashion: a belonging that is not limited to the spirit but extends even to our corporal being (Second Reading). Our ability to respond positively to such a calling is rooted in the grace that flows to us from the totally open response of the Son to his Father´s call (Psalm).

[1] Cf. CCC 114

In the Gospel passage, nothing really happens, does it? No miracles or lofty discourses. No births, deaths or marriages. Just a few, quite brief, personal encounters: though memorable enough for John – one of the two who followed the passer-by pointed out by the Baptist – to recall as an old man that "it was about four in the afternoon" when he first met Jesus. For the first disciples, it was a true epiphany: "We have found the Messiah". None of them can contain their excitement. Each one in turn is compelled to go and find a friend or a brother and tell them the news (Philip finds Nathaniel, Andrew tells Simon). This is always – particularly in St John´s Gospel, e.g., 4:28; 20:17, – the sign that a person has really met the Lord and come to know him.

They appear to be casual encounters, but in Jesus´ zeal for the kingdom, everyone he meets is invited aboard his boat, and the sooner the better. The disciples were quite young; Samuel was younger still, perhaps not even a teen. God has no age limits – he can, and does, create child saints – and the wise priest Eli does not attempt to impose any on him once he realizes what is happening. The advice he gives the boy is the best advice anyone who has care of, or cares about, a young person, can ever give: when God speaks, answer with total readiness. "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening".

When God calls someone by name – and when he gives a new name, indicative of the mission he has in store for that person (he has a mission in store for every person) – there really can be no other answer, unless it is an equivalent one, like Christ´s own: "Here I am Lord, I come to do your will". And living henceforth as one "taken over" by the Lord, so that even in the reverence we accord our own body – and that of our neighbor – it is clear we belong to him.

Catechesis. The Christian vocation for all involves a calling to love – usually married love – and to chastity (CCC 2392; 1603-1604; 2331-59); not a few are called to consecrated virginity and service (915-916; 1578-1579; and see below).

That one of our most popular hymns echoes today´s ´calling´ theme is indicative of how very much it corresponds to a profound need of the human person: to be called, by name, by God. Every man and woman needs to encounter Christ, the Savior, in truly personal fashion. It is unlikely that it will be recognized from the start as something extraordinary; only with time does one realize who it is that is calling, and sometimes only with the help of another. All of us – not just the young people in the seminary or the local convent – have a vocation, a specific call from the Lord to follow and serve him in a particular way. Often we find the way before it has even occurred to us that it has anything to do with "vocation". With more mature reflection, all those who have not done so will be much enriched if they begin living out their marriage, their professional occupation, and their social relationships as a calling from the Lord and the ´place´ in which they will continue to encounter him

Similarly, the calling to engage in some apostolic endeavor, individually or in cooperation with a parish group or another Catholic association, is not only not something ´odd´ or only for a select few, but the sign that one is Christian in more than name: that one´s faith is personal and has led to following Christ closely.

Parents should not be surprised, much less concerned, when the Lord establishes a relationship with their children: on the contrary, they should be the first, like the Baptist, to point him out to them and encourage them to follow him. Nor should they be surprised, or upset, if a priest, sister or lay person in whom the heart of Christ beats, is alert to "chance encounters" as the Lord himself was and invites a young person to consider following him more closely in the priesthood or consecrated life.

In fact, "it is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation" (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; CCC 1656). The Catechism is so exceptionally explicit and repetitive concerning this that one cannot but believe it is vital for the health of the Church and we must take it very much to heart.

It states (2232-2233): "Family ties are important but not absolute. Just as the child grows to maturity and human and spiritual autonomy, so his unique vocation which comes from God asserts itself more clearly and forcefully. Parents should respect this call and encourage their children to follow it. They must be convinced that the first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: ´He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.´ (Matthew 10:37) Becoming a disciple of Jesus means accepting the invitation to belong to God´s family, to live in conformity with His way of life: ´For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.´ (Matthew 12:50) Parents should welcome and respect with joy and thanksgiving the Lord´s call to one of their children to follow him in virginity for the sake of the Kingdom in the consecrated life or in priestly ministry."