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January 14, 2009
Breaking Open the Word
By James Cavanagh
Jan. 18: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Theme: To “listen” means to hear with the intension of acting on what one has heard. This week’s readings involve individuals who responded to the call to follow God. In the first reading, Samuel (which means “he who hears God”) was keeping vigil in the temple before the Ark of the Covenant when God called him. According to tradition he was 12 years old, the same age as Jesus when he was found in the Temple conversing with the rabbis (Lk 2:21-52). The calling of Samuel foreshadows Christ’s priestly and prophetic calling as “the lamb of God.” It also anticipates the calling of the two disciples in the Gospel who “heard what [John the Baptist] said, and followed Jesus.” In the Psalm we echo Samuel as we sing, “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” In the second reading St. Paul reminds us that each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit. When we’re baptized we not only become members of Christ and cleansed of original sin, we are also given the Holy Spirit who enables us to believe in God, to hear him and to “submit freely to the word that has been heard.”
Key verse: “If you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening’” (1 Sam 3:10).
“Catechism of the Catholic Church”: “By his Revelation, ‘the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.’ The adequate response to this invitation is faith[RTF bookmark start: }143[RTF bookmark end: }143. By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, ‘the obedience of faith.’ To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to ‘hear or listen to’) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself” (Nos. 142-144).
Pope Benedict XVI: “The word of the Lord, resounding in the Gospel, reminded us that the whole divine law is summarized in love. Neighborly love is born from docile listening to the divine word. It is a love that will even withstand difficult trials for the truth of the divine word, and in this way true love grows and truth shines in all its splendor. How important it is to listen to the word and incarnate it in personal and community life!” (Homily, Oct. 26, 2008).
Application: God speaks to us whenever we read and pray the Scriptures. But he speaks to us especially at Mass when the word of God is proclaimed. If you have trouble discerning what God is saying to you ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and to teach you what you need to hear in the readings and the homily. Like Samuel say, “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” The Lord has something he wants to say to you. Listen carefully.