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2nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Cycle B)

Readings:
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-9, 10
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
John 1:35-42

All Scripture passages are from the New American Bible unless designated NJB (New Jerusalem Bible), IBHE (Interlinear Bible Hebrew-English), IBGE (Interlinear Bible Greek-English), or LXX (Greek Septuagint Old Testament translation).  CCC designates a citation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The word LORD or GOD rendered in all capital letters is, in the Hebrew text, God's Divine Name YHWH (Yahweh).

The two Testaments reveal God's divine plan for mankind, and this is the reason we read and relive the events of salvation history contained in the Old and New Testaments in the Church's Liturgy.  The Catechism teaches that the Liturgy reveals the unfolding mystery of God's plan as we read the Old Testament in light of the New and the New Testament in light of the Old (CCC 1094-1095).

The Theme of the Readings: The Call and the Response
In today's readings, we have examples of individuals God called to take up a life dedicated to His service.  In the First Reading, God called the prophet Samuel to serve Him when Samuel was still a child.  In the Psalm, attributed to David, we recall that David, anointed to divine service when still a child, served God faithfully throughout the struggles of his life.  Then, there is the example of St. Paul in the Second Reading who, as the voice of God to the Corinthians, warned them of the dangers of immorality.  The final examples are robust fishermen in the prime of life who left their occupation catching fish to become "fishers of men" for Christ.  In each case, these very different individuals responded to God's invitation to serve Him in the same way.  They gave up everything to follow a divine calling. 

In the First Reading, Samuel, an adopted son of the High Priest Eli, received a divine call to prophetic service when he was a child sleeping in the Sanctuary.  The Lord called Samuel three times before he realized that it was the voice of God calling him.  He responded to God's call the fourth time and submitted his entire life to God's holy service. 

In the Psalm Reading, attributed to David, he expresses his understanding that the Lord wants willing obedience and humble contrition from sinners.  He acknowledges that the kind of sacrifice that is pleasing to God is the sacrifice of self-interest in a relationship in which love of God comes before love of self. 

St. Paul admonished the Christian community at Corinth in the Second Reading to avoid acts of immorality. He reminded the Corinthians that in the Sacrament of Christian Baptism they have been reborn to new life in Christ, and their bodies became temples of the Holy Spirit.  They have become members of Christ's Body and are meant to live in an intimate relationship of holiness with Him, sharing in Christ's life and being "one spirit" with Him.

In the Gospel Reading, Simon (Peter) meets Jesus for the first time.  It is his brother, Andrew, who makes the introduction that will change their lives forever. 

The examples of humility and self-sacrifice demonstrated in the lives of these men are models of behavior for us on this side of salvation history.  It is the kind of pleasing sacrifice made to the Lord when one completely offers up one's self as a Temple of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God.  In responding to God's call, we acknowledge that our bodies, as St. Paul writes, ">have been purchased at a price" by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross. How often does God call us when we fail to recognize His voice or His call to service?  Listen to His voice with an open heart, and miracles can happen in your life like the work of God in the transformed lives of the men in today's Scripture readings.

The First Reading 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19 ~ God's Revelation to Samuel
3b Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the Ark of God was.  4 The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am."  5 Samuel ran to Eli and said, "Here I am. You called me."  "I did not call you, "Eli said. "Go back to sleep."  So he went back to sleep.  6 Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.  "Here I am," he said. "You called me."  But Eli answered, "I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep." 7At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.  8 The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.  Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me."  Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.  9 So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening."  When Samuel went to sleep in his place, 10 the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!"  Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
19 Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.  LORD in capital letters is a substitute for the Divine Name YHWH in the original translation and usually reads "Yahweh" with vowels.

The name "Samuel" in Hebrew means "name of God." It is a name that appears twenty-four times in 1 Samuel Chapter 3.  Samuel was the child born to a previously childless woman named Hannah who promised to dedicate her firstborn son to God as a perpetual Nazirite (1 Sam 1:1-2:11; Num 6:1-8).  She brought Samuel to the Sanctuary at Shiloh and gave him to the chief priest Eli when he was three years old. 

3b Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the Ark of God was.
Eli gave the child Samuel the duty of watching over the golden Lampstand (Menorah) in the Sanctuary's Holy Place at Shiloh (Ex 37:17-24).  It was Samuel's task to make certain that the seven oil lamps in the Menorah did not burn out.  According to the Law, it was the duty of the priests to keep the lamps continuingly burning in the Sanctuary (Lev 24:2-4).  Only the chief priests were permitted within the Holy Place of the Sanctuary.  That Samuel was allowed to perform this duty shows that he was fully incorporated into Eli's priestly family; however, it is another indication that Eli was not obedient to the Law concerning the Sanctuary (1 Sam 2:27-31).  Even if Samuel was considered Eli's son, he was too young to perform this sacred duty (Num 4:35). 

At this time, the Sanctuary had two sacred spaces: The Holy Place that housed the golden lampstand (Menorah), the golden table of the Bread of the Presence, and the golden Altar of Incense, and the Holy of Holies.  The Holy of Holies, the sacred space beyond the Holy Place (to the west), contained the dwelling place of God with His people—the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:10-22).  The high priest could enter this sacred space once a year on the Feast of Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement; Lev 16:1ff).  The Ark of the Covenant was behind a curtain that separated the Holy Place where Samuel was keeping watch from the Holy of Holies.  Perhaps Yahweh called to Samuel from inside the Holy of Holies behind the curtain.  See the plan of the Sanctuary and its Tabernacle.

Yahweh called Samuel four times, but the first three times Samuel did not understand that it was the Lord God calling him.  The three/four pattern that we see in the call of Samuel is a familiar pattern in Scripture.  For example, see Judges 16:7-21 in Delilah's three unsuccessful attempts to subdue Samson that was successful on the fourth try.  Also see Matthew 12:40, 41; 16:4 and Luke 11:29, 30, 32 in Jesus' three times repetition of comparisons to the prophet Jonah and the fulfillment in the fourth "sign" that is Jesus' death, burial, and Resurrection.    In each "calling," Yahweh says Samuel's name twice, repeating his name a total of eight times.  In the significance of numbers in Scripture, eight is the number signifying rebirth and salvation.  The double calling of a name is what God did when He called Abraham in Genesis 22:11; Jacob in Genesis 46:2; and Moses in Exodus 3:4.

In verse 9, notice that Eli instructs Samuel to answer God by using God's Divine Name (Yahweh).  Samuel follows those instructions, speaking God's Divine Name and saying, "Speak Yahweh; for your servant is listening" (in the Hebrew text).  The false piety introduced centuries later that forbade the speaking aloud of God's Divine Name outside the Temple liturgical services or writing God's Divine Name does not appear in Sacred Scripture.  God's Divine Name appears regularly written and spoken aloud by people in the Biblical narrative about 6,800 times.  God told Moses that YHWH (Yahweh) was the name by which all generations should call upon Him: This is my name for all time, and thus I am to be invoked for all generations to come (Ex 3:15b NJB).  The first person in the Bible to speak aloud God's Divine Name was Eve (Gen 4:1).

10 the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!"
In the fourth calling in verse 10, God came and stood, "reveling his presence" near Samuel whereas before only "calling" was mentioned.  Does this suggest that God had previously called Samuel from behind the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where God dwelled above the Ark of the Covenant, but when Samuel responded that He came out from behind the curtain to come close to Samuel?  It is possible, and Scripture supports that the revelation to Samuel now involved a vision.  1 Samuel 3:15 records that Samuel was afraid to tell Eli about "the vision" [other translations have "what he saw"].

19 Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

That day Samuel began his service as Yahweh's divine prophet whose mission was to speak the words of God to the covenant people.  It was a mission to which Samuel remained faithful all his life.

Responsorial Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-9, 10 ~ Humility and Obedience is the Valued Sacrifice

The response is: "Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will."

2 I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. 
4And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.
Response
7 Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; 8a then said I, "Behold I come."
Response
8b "In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, 9 to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!"
Response
10 I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
Response

This psalm, attributed to David, expresses his gratitude for what God has done for him.  He begins with a confession of his distress as he waited for the Lord to help him.  The Lord heard him in his time of need and delivered him.  In response, he expresses his gratitude as God inspires him in singing "a new song" that is a hymn that of praise to God in this psalm (verse 4).

7 Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
It is through his intimate relationship with the Lord that the psalmist understands the true meaning of sacrificial offerings made in the liturgy of worship.  It is not the animal the Lord wants as a sin sacrifice.  God wants the willing obedience of the offerer in living within the boundaries of His commandments, and He wants the humble contrition of the sinner whose true sacrifice is the sacrifice of self-interest in a relationship in which love of God comes before love of self (verses 7-8). 

8 then said I, "Behold I come.  In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, 9 to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!"
In verses 8-9, the psalmist addresses God directly, announcing that his joy comes from living in obedience to the precepts of the Law.  The Law isn't just words on a page (scroll), but it is the path of life that God has engraved on his heart. 

10 I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
In addition to keeping the commandments, the psalmist understands that his dedication to God must be active and not passive, vocal and not silent.  He must proclaim the goodness of God in the liturgical assembly of worship, testifying to others about the good things God has done for him.  This is the visual and active commitment that Jesus spoke of in His last homily when He said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments (Jn 14:15) and what St. James encouraged in his New Testament letter to the universal Church, writing, For just as body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (Jam 2:26).

The Second Reading 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 ~ The Body of the Baptized is the Temple of the Holy Spirit
Brothers and sisters: 13c The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body; 14 God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.  15a Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? [...] 17 But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.  18 Avoid immorality.  Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the immoral person sins against his own body.  19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?  20 For you have been purchased at a price.  Therefore glorify God in your body.

St. Paul condemns the sin of fornication (sexual relations outside the Sacrament of Marriage) and explains how gravely offensive this sin is to Christ who calls all Christians to a life of holiness.  He reminds the Corinthians that, in the Sacrament of Christian baptism, they have been reborn to new life in Christ, and their bodies became temples of the Holy Spirit.  They have become members of Christ's Body and are meant to live in an intimate relationship of holiness with Him, sharing His very life (Gal 2:20) and being "one spirit" with Christ (Rom 12:5; 1 Cor 12:27).

Therefore, Paul writes, Christians have the responsibility to keep holy the temples of their bodies.  They have no right to abuse their bodies with sins of immorality.  Their bodies have been purchased with the very blood of Christ and with the promise that, like Christ, their bodies (and ours) will be resurrected "on the last day" when Christ returns (1 Cor 15:35-42, 51-53; 1 Thes 4:13-16; CCC 366).

The Gospel of John 1:35-42 ~ Andrew and Simon-Peter meet Jesus
35 John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God."  37 The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.  38 Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?"  They said to him, "Rabbi," which translated means Teacher, "where are you staying?"  39 He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.  It was about four in the afternoon [about the tenth hour].  40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.  41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah," which is translated Christ.  42 Then he brought him to Jesus.  Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas," which is translated Peter [Petros = rock].  [...] = literal Greek translation, IBGE, vol. IV, page 250.

St. John the Baptist had his own disciples; they were a group set apart by his ritual baptism of repentance.  They had rules of fasting (Mk 2:18; Lk 7:29-33) and their own prayers ( Lk 5:33, 11:1).  Some of them continued as St. John the Baptist's disciples after his death (Mk 6:29; Acts 19:3).  Others became Jesus' disciples like St. Andrew and his unnamed friend, who the Fathers of the Church identify as St. John Zebedee (Jn 1:35-40).

"Behold, the Lamb of God." 
This declaration is the second time the Baptist has identified Jesus as a sacrificial lamb; see John 1:29 where John identified Jesus as "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."  The word in the Greek text is amnos.  The word occurs in John only here in verse 35 and in verse 29.  It appears nowhere else in the New Testament except in Acts 8:32 and in 1 Peter 1:19.  The other word used for "lamb" in the New Testament is arnion, which is an archaic form and can be translated "a little lamb." Arnion is found once in St. John's Gospel (21:15) and 30 times for Christ in the book of Revelation.  It is a word specifically used by the Apostle St. John to identify the glorified Redeemer, and this distinction may be the reason the word does not appear in the pre-glory narrative. 

37 The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. 
One of the disciples of the Baptist mentioned in verse 37 is Andrew, the brother of Simon-Peter, and the other is unnamed, although we later learn that they both become Apostles of Jesus.  The majority of scholars, ancient and modern, identify the Apostle John Zebedee (believed to be the inspired writer of this Gospel) as the unnamed disciple of the Baptist.  All the lists of the twelve Apostles name Simon, Andrew, James, and John as the first four.  The Synoptic Gospels mention these same four as the first disciples called by Jesus while fishing on the Sea of Galilee (although St. Luke leaves out Andrew).  The repeated order of the lists may suggest a priority of discipleship, listing those who first answered the call in order.  If that is so, there is a case for identifying the "unnamed" disciple as John Zebedee in this passage.

In this passage, we have information that is not in the Synoptic Gospels.  For the first time, we realize that some of the Apostles knew Jesus before He began His ministry in the Galilee and called them to follow Him when He saw them fishing and mending their nets near the Sea of Galilee.  This information makes their eagerness to leave everything and follow Him in the second encounter in their call to service in the Galilee seem much more reasonable (Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Lk 5:1-11). 

38 Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, "What are you looking for?"  They said to him, "Rabbi," which translated means Teacher, "where are you staying?"  39 He said to them, "Come, and you will see." So they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with him that day.  It was about four in the afternoon [about the tenth hour].
John is writing this Gospel for a late 1st-century congregation in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) that is largely composed of Gentile Greek/Roman culture converts for whom Greek is the common language.  They are not familiar with Jewish customs, and so he explains the meaning of the word "Rabbi." 

It was about the tenth hour.

What time is the "tenth hour" in this passage?  Is the inspired writer using the Jewish or the Roman method of marking time?  Is he speaking of time literally or symbolically?  If he is speaking symbolically, 10 is the number of divine order, indicating that it was at the perfect time in God's divine plan that these men came to Jesus.  But the 10th hour is probably meant both symbolically and literally.  See the chart on the daily time divisions in the 1st-century AD.

 In the Jewish method of marking time, the day began sundown with the entire day divided into two divisions of 12 hours each. The nighttime 12 hours divided into 4 watches and the daytime 12 seasonal hours divided to correspond with the Tamid liturgical worship service and sacrifice in the Temple that began at dawn as the first hour.  The other Gospels use Jewish time, and, according to the Jewish reckoning, the tenth hour would be 4 o'clock in the afternoon our time, late in the afternoon near the end of the day.  If the disciples of John the Baptist stayed with Jesus "that day" (verse 39) until sundown, there wasn't much daylight left.  With Jewish day ending at sundown, which was the seasonal hour of our 6 PM or in Jewish time the 12th hour, that only gave them two hours of conversation. 

If St. John the Apostle is the inspired writer (as testified to by the early Church Fathers and Church documents), his church at Ephesus, where he wrote his Gospel, was located in the third most important city in the Roman Empire.  The Roman pro-councils of Asia resided there.  The Roman day began at midnight (we keep Roman time), and the Roman day was divined and numbered into 12-hour divisions from midnight to noon and from noon to midnight.  Why would St. John use Jewish time for his mixed Jewish and Roman audience?  He also takes the time to explain Jewish terms to his Gentile congregation in his Gospel (Jn 1:38; 1:42), and he even uses Roman geographic terms, referring to the Sea of Galilee as the Sea of Tiberias (Jn 6:1, 23, 21:1).  The tenth hour of the day Roman time was 10 in the morning, which would give the men who went to stay with Jesus the majority of the day to talk with Him.

40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.  41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, "We have found the Messiah," which is translated Christ.  42 Then he brought him to Jesus.  Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas," which is translated Peter [petros = "rock"].
"Cephas" is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic name Jesus gave him which was "Kepha" or "Rock," or perhaps expressed in Galilean Aramaic "Qepha"; it appears as "Petros" in the Greek text of the other Gospels and New Testament books.  Only St. John's Gospel gives this form of Peter's new name/title, but it is also a name St. Paul uses in addition to "Petros" when he refers to Peter (see for example Gal 2:9, 11).

St. John's Gospel also uses the Greek form "Petros" which we translate as Peter.  "Peter/Petros" would have been well-known to the churches of Asia Minor at the time St. John the Apostle wrote the fourth Gospel (it was the last Gospel written).  Therefore, he uses the Greek translation of "Rock" (Peter's title) in the masculine form as "Petros/Peter" along with the Greek name "Simon" which is similar to his Hebrew name.   "Simon" was a Greek name. "Symeon" would be a better Greek transliteration for his Hebrew name that is Sim'on.   Since Scripture never refers to Peter by the Hebrew name Symeon, and since his brother Andrew does not have a Hebrew name equivalent, it is possible that people only knew the brothers by their Greek names.

Another possible translation for verse 41 is: Andrew was the first to find his own brother...  This reading has been interpreted by many scholars to imply that the unnamed disciple (perhaps John Zebedee) had also gone to find his brother (James), who will become an Apostle.   

Andrew tells his brother: "We have found the Messiah..."  In St. John's Gospel, he gives his good friend Andrew the credit as the first of the disciples to identify Jesus as the Messiah.  In the account concerning how John came to write his Gospel, the Fathers of the Church relate that it was Andrew who received the revelation from God that John should record his memories of Jesus (the Muratorian Fragment, a copy of a more ancient document written c. 155 AD).

Jesus says, "You are Simon, the son of John..."  Here we have an interesting problem.  In John's Gospel, he identifies Simon-Peter as the son of John four times (here and in Chapter 21 in verses 15-17, three times).  However, the Gospel of Matthew 16:17, identifies Simon-Peter as the "son of Jonah."  Modern scholars usually offer one of two explanations:

John and Jonah can hardly be similar names.  Jonah means "dove" (an amusing name for that Old Testament prophet who was most un-dove like), and John is from the Hebrew root word hen which means grace, and the Hebrew word hesed, from the root hen, means gracious, faithful, merciful love. 

Is there an error in Scripture or is there another explanation?  The Church teaches that Sacred Scripture is without error (CCC# 107), and the Fathers of the Church taught if there seems to be a conflict or discrepancy in Scripture, the error is with the interpretation.  The conflicting passage is Matthew 16:17 where Jesus, talking to Simon-Peter, says: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!"  However, St. John's Gospel identifies Simon as the "son of John" four times (Jn 1:42; 21:15, 16 and 17).  The passage in Matthew 16:17 is the only time that Simon is identified as the "son of Jonah."  If Simon is not the son of a man named "Jonah," why would Jesus refer to him this way?  It is important in Scripture study to remember that "a text without a context is only a pretext!"   The question is what has preceded this questionable passage in Matthew 16:17

In previous Matthew chapters, Jesus was talking about the Old Testament prophet Jonah.  In Matthew 12:39-16:4, there are six references to Jonah found in five verses: see Mt 12:39, 40, 41 [twice]; 16:4, and also in verse 17 that is the sixth reference is to Simon-Peter.  Jesus finishes Matthew 16:17 by using the Aramaic word for "rock" which is kepha in the Greek translation: 16:18 "So I now say to you: You are Peter [Kepha] and on this rock [kepha] I will build my church [ekklesia]."  The key to understanding why Jesus called Peter the son of Jonah comes from the building up of the Jonah passages that come before his final announcement of Simon as Kepa = Rock in Aramaic.   What is Simon-Peter's connection to the 8th century BC prophet Jonah?  All the previous passages recount Jonah's mission as God's holy prophet to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh and compare Jonah's three days in the belly of the great fish/whale and his release to Christ's entombment and resurrection which will be the "sign" of the completion of Jesus' redemption for mankind. 

The question is what will be similar in Simon/Peter's mission as God's emissary to link him to Jonah's mission?  God sent Jonah to the Gentile city of Nineveh, the capital of the world's superpower in the 8th century BC, the Assyrian Empire, to preach repentance to the Gentiles and that salvation was only through the One True God.  St. Peter will be sent to Rome, the Gentile capital of the world superpower, the Roman Empire, and his mission will be to convert the Gentile Romans, and through them, the Church of Jesus Christ will convert the rest of the Gentile world.

Abraham was the physical "rock" from which the children of Israel came (Is 51:1-2), but Peter will be the spiritual "Rock" who is the father of the New Covenant children of new Israel that is the universal [Catholic] Church!  When God changes a person's name (for example Abram to Abraham or Sarai to Sarah), it is an indication of a change in destiny.  Simon's name change indicated God's plan for Simon's destiny.  He will be the "rock," that is a firm foundation upon which the Church will be built (Mt 7:24-27).  Then too, there is the etymology of Jonah's name: Jonah means "dove" in Hebrew.  Peter is also the "son of the dove" = ben yonah in Hebrew (bar yonah in Aramaic).  In the New Covenant, the dove became the symbol for God the Holy Spirit, revealed in Jesus' baptism (Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:22).  Peter is surely the "son of the Holy Spirit," for it is God the Holy Spirit, Jesus' says, who revealed Jesus' true identity as the Messiah and Son of God to Simon-Peter (Mt 16:17).

Catechism References:
1 Samuel 3:9-10 (CCC 2578)
Psalm 40:2 (CCC 2657); 40:7-9 (CCC 462); 40:7 (CCC 2824)
1 Corinthians 6:13-15 (CCC 1004), 6:14 (CCC 989); 6:15 (CCC 1265), 6:19-20 (CCC 364, 1004); 6:19 (CCC 1265, 1269, 1695)

John 1:36 (CCC 608)

Michal E. Hunt Copyright © 2015 www.AgapeBibleStudy.com; revised 2018