Immersed in Christ: January 17, 2021
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
We Are Called and Sent
Here am I, Lord. I come to do your will. (Responsorial: Psalm 40)
What is your most constant preoccupation? In being aware of that, what are you less aware of? What might you be losing sight of altogether?
The Entrance Antiphon expresses the desire that “all the earth” will give God “worship and praise.” We echo this every time we pray in the Our Father, “Hallowed be thy Name!” But concretely, how do we worship him? What do we praise him for? Are both a constant preoccupation?
The Opening Prayer(s) tell us that our Father “orders all things in such power that even the tensions and tragedies of sin cannot frustrate [his] loving plans.” Not ultimately. But we know that often God’s will is not done, and people block the good he desires to bring about. So we pray, “Help us to embrace your will.” We are aware that for us God’s will is that we should continue the mission of Jesus. So we add, “Give us the strength to follow your call,” We ask this “so that your truth may live in our hearts,” be seen in our actions, and “reflect peace” to all who, through what they see in us, will be helped to “believe in your love.”
“Here I Am”
In Chad, Africa, when an Ngama father names his son, he knows the name is just temporary. The boy will not receive his real name until he is initiated into full participation in the life of the tribe. This is also true of us.
The name parents give to their baby in the hospital, to be written on the birth certificate, is only the child’s “citizen” name as an American. The child’s real name as a child of God whose “citizenship is in heaven” will not be given until Baptism. It might be the same name in terms of the way it is spelled and pronounced. But it is not the same name at all. The new name is given by God, and its true meaning is known to God alone.
In two of today’s readings—1Samuel 3:3-19 and John 1: 35-42—God is calling people by name. And also naming them by his call.
The LORD called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli [because] Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
When God called Samuel’s name, he also gave him is name as a prophet:
As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him …. And all Israel … came to know that Samuel was accredited as a prophet of the Lord (verse 20).
When Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, Jesus “looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas’ (which is translated Peter)”—that is, the “Rock” on which Jesus would build his Church.
We don’t need to hear God’s voice calling us in the night, or to see Jesus telling us face-to-face that he has given us a “name”; that is, a special identity defined by our personal, unique relationship with him and by the distinctive role that each of us is called to play in continuing his mission on earth. The angels heard God’s voice on the day of our Baptism, whether we heard it with our ears or not. And what they heard was God the Father calling us by name (and naming us by our call) as he said, “This is my beloved son, my precious daughter, whom I have chosen. As my Son Jesus was anointed for his messianic mission as Prophet, Priest and King, I anoint you to live and continue his mission as a member of his body.” 2
That is simply Catholic doctrine. If we had seen a vision and heard God’s voice speaking to us, we might doubt whether it was real. But about what God said to us at Baptism there is no doubt. That is an article of faith.
We need to keep ourselves aware of it.
“Do you not know…”
In 1Corinthians 6: 13-20 Paul asks three times: ”Do you not know…?”
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? …
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?
Of course we know it. We were taught this as children. But that does not mean we understand it. Or that we are constantly aware of it.
Making—and keeping—ourselves aware of what we are, of what grace has made us and is calling us to be right now, this is the first phase of our conscious, explicit journey into the “perfection of love.” Everything begins with the realization of our graced (divine) relationship with God. Until we can say with wonder and awe, “Our Father who are in heaven….” we have not entered with conscious understanding into the “grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have not heard the Good News. And if we are not aware of it we are forgetting it. And diminishing its benefits. So be aware!
What is your name? Who gave it to you? What does it mean? How can you find out?
Listen to what God is calling you to do. Find yourself in it.
1 Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 13:14; 1Peter 2:9-16; John 14:1-3. 2 Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:35. See the Rite of Baptism for children.