Here I Am Lord: Meeting the Lord in Ordinary Time
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Jan 14, 2024 - 2d Sunday in Ordinary Time
My friends, brothers, and sisters in the Lord,
We have moved from the Christmas season into Ordinary Time in the Liturgical calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. However, there really is no truly "ordinary" time, in the sense of mundane time, because time itself has been transformed by the conception, birth, life, suffering, death, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ. The eternal One entered our human history.
Photo credit: Mark Fletcher
Ordinary time challenges us to meet the Lord in our daily life. He is walking before us and beckoning us to follow Him. We do not walk this life alone. The Lord has broken into our ordinary time and transforms it from within. For those who have eyes to see His work, ears to hear His voice, and Hearts open to receive his gifts of grace, ordinary time can become extraordinary.
In our first reading for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time from chapter three of the Book of Samuel, we heard of the call of the Lord to the young, soon-to-become prophet named Samuel. He was ministering under the leadership of Eli. Eli was an old man whose eyesight was failing. And, at the time this call came, we read in the first verse of this same chapter, "the word of the Lord was rare in those days and there was no frequent vision."
It takes several times before Samuel, with the help of the elderly Eli, finally discerns that the voice he was hearing, the call he was receiving, was not from Eli, but from the Lord. Not only is this account part of the history of the Lordâ€ s dealings with Israel, but it has a spiritual lesson for all of us. We need to learn to listen for the Lord. And, through prayer and growth in the Christian life, we can learn to hear His voice. In our Responsorial Psalm, we heard that David, the Psalmist and Prophet did just that. He learned to hear the Lord. We are called to hear His voice as well.
To understand the Second Reading, which is taken from the Apostle Paulâ€ s letter to the Corinthians, the context is helpful. At Corinth, Paul found that the believers were becoming confused about the full teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were being led astray by some false teachers inside the Church. In the portion we heard on this Lordâ€ s Day, he was contending with immoral behavior in the community.
This revealed a failure to understand that the Lord came to save the whole person, body, soul, and spirit. The teaching of the Bible and the Church is that redemption will only be complete when we, like the Lord Himself, are raised bodily. Our bodies are not simply a carrying case. Jesus assumed a human body and was raised in a glorified body. We will be raised bodily as well. We profess this every Sunday in the ancient Creed which we recite. Do we believe this? How do we view our body?
The Gospel is from the first chapter of St. John, the call of the first disciples through the witness of John the Baptizer. The Baptizer pointed to Jesus and said, "Behold the Lamb of God". The priest says those very words at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when he elevates the consecrated Body and Blood of Jesus Christ! Jesus is calling each one of us to follow Him. He invites each one of us to "come and see". Do we believe this? Is it changing our lives as it changed the lives of the early Christians?
During the first week of Ordinary time in the Liturgical season of the Church we followed the public ministry of Jesus in the account of St Mark. We read the calling of Simon and Andrew who, upon hearing the words "Come, follow me", abandoned their nets, their jobs and their father, to follow Him. (Mk 1: 14-20) They were ordinary fisherman. They did not stay put when they heard that voice. They took the risk which lies at the heart of discipleship. They left their nets, their place of comfort and safety, and followed Him on the adventure of faith.
We heard of the authority of Jesus over evil. He entered the Synagogue at Capernaum (Mk 1:21-28) where he was confronted by a man with an unclean spirit. The man cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are-the Holy One of God! Jesus rebuked him and said, Quiet! Come out of him! The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
We heard of the healing of Peterâ€ s Mother-in-Law. (Mk. 1:29-39) The account ends with Jesus, rising early to pray and being told by Simon, Everyone is looking for you. (Mk. 1:29-39) Everyone is still looking for Jesus. In Thursdays Gospel passage we met the leper who knelt before Jesus and says "If you wish, you can make me clean." The account continues, "Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. (Mk. 1:40-45) In each of these accounts we witness response of ordinary people who learn how to bring themselves, along with their imperfections, suffering and struggles to Jesus.
We should bring to Him our weakness, our frailty, our suffering and our inability, on our own, to overcome the deep-seated patterns of life. These can become the material out of which He refashions us and makes us new. This is what is part of the mystery of suffering in Christian teaching. Saint Jose Maria Escriva wrote "The great Christian revolution has been to convert pain into fruitful suffering and to turn a bad thing into something good. We have deprived the devil of this weapon; and with it we can conquer eternity."
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The Lord has made our weakness and frailties a path to a deepening relationship with Him. They can be a door to progress in our baptismal call to holiness of life. St. Francis DeSales (1567-1610), once wrote in a letter, "God wants your misery to be the throne of His mercy. He desires that your powerlessness be the seat of His omnipotence." In another letter he wrote: "Be patient with the whole world, but, above all with yourself. I want to tell you not to lose your serenity because of your imperfections, and always to have the zest to raise yourself up. It gives me joy to see each day you begin again. There is no better way to finish life well than to return to the starting point always and not ever to think that we have done enough."
That great pastor of souls was also dispensing very good advice for you and me. The reality of our frail human is that we are weak and the struggles we face in our daily lives do not necessarily lessen as we age. We fall and we fail. The Good News is that the Lord is always there, ready to forgive, to heal and to help us to get back up and, with the help of His grace, begin again and again and again. It is not how many times we fall, but whether we get up. This is our ordinary time made extraordinary by our cooperating with grace. Let us join with Samuel and tell the Lord "Here I Am".
Have a Blessed Lord's Day,
Deacon Keith Fournier
Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil
Dean of Catholic Online School