"Breaking Open the Word" :
James Cavanagh is the director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-Area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. His weekly column, "Breaking Open the Word," is syndicated by the Denver Catholic Register, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Denver. Click here to visit the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis for the Archdiocese of Denver.
January 15, 2012: The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19
Synopsis: To “listen” in the biblical sense means to hear with the intention of responding to what one has heard—which is what we should all be doing every Sunday! This week’s readings involve people who humbly responded to the call of God.
In the first reading Samuel, whose name means “he who hears God,” was keeping vigil in the temple when God called him. According to tradition he was 12 years old, the same age as Jesus when he was found in the Temple where he was “listening to the rabbis and asking them questions” (Lk 2:21-52). The calling of Samuel in the Temple prefigures Christ’s calling as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” It also foreshadows the calling of the disciples in this week’s Gospel.
In the Psalm we echo Samuel’s response: “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.” In the second reading St. Paul says, “Your body 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 hear the word of God and respond.
The Gospel readings between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday (Feb. 22) all have to do with, in one way or another, the manifestation of Jesus as the Christ and Son of God. In this week’s Gospel, we hear about the calling of the first disciples, who respond to Jesus’ invitation to “come and see.” After listening to the Lord well into the night, they come to recognize him as the Messiah. Andrew responds to this revelation by immediately sharing the good news with his brother, Simon Peter.
Key verse: “If you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening’” (1 Sam 3:10).)
Catechism of the Catholic Church: “In sacred Scripture, the Church constantly finds her nourishment and her strength, for she welcomes it not as a human word, but as what it really is, the word of God. In the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them” (No. 104).
Benedict XVI: “The word of God draws each of us into a conversation with the Lord: the God who speaks teaches us how to speak to him. Our whole existence becomes a dialogue with the God who speaks and listens, who calls us and gives direction to our lives. Here the word of God reveals that our entire life is under the divine call” (“Verbum Domini,” 24).
Life application: God speaks to us whenever we read the Scriptures. 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 so that you can hear what you need to hear. Like Samuel say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” The Lord has something he wants to say to you. Are you listening?
James Cavanagh is director of Evangelization and Catechesis for Metro-area Parishes of the Denver Archdiocese. Cavanagh’s column is distributed by the Denver Catholic Register.
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