2nd Sunday

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I Sam 3: 3b-10, 19; Ps. 40: 2-4, 7-10; I Cor. 6: 13c-15a, 17-20; John 1: 35-42

by Jude Siciliano, OP

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Dear Preachers:


The 2nd





The readings are about vocation and the bond of discipleship. They suggest that being a disciple is about attentive listening. Samuel is in the Temple and there he hears the voice of God. He is already a follower, since he is ministering in the Temple. But God is going to call him to take further steps in following God. In the Temple, the sacred flame had to be lighted from dusk to daybreak. It was a sign of God's presence. Samuel’s task may have been that of guarding the Temple flame as it burned through the night. That's a wonderful image for the preacher to play with – in the world when it is dark, we are vigilant to keep God's light burning, and called to listen to what God has to say. Perhaps, if we listen in the dark, we will be guided to know how to carry the flame of God into our world. The believer is one who keeps the light going in the dark.

One such believer was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose holiday is January 15th. In a dark world of racial inequality he tended the flame of non-violence and racial equality. His preaching and work led to the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. But today his dream for justice for all is far from fulfilled. We can’t expect that only some have to be concerned about issues like peace and justice. Don’t we all have some part to play, in large or small ways, to help further the dream of Dr. King? Doesn’t his dream coincide with the dream God has for humanity, that all be treated equally, that justice be the hallmark of our daily ways with others?

What part do we have in this work of justice: at home, where we work and in our society? The Martin Luther King, Jr holiday may give us an occasion to ask God: What role do we have in fulfilling Dr. King’s dream? Are we, like Samuel, asleep in the temple, while God is trying to get through to us? At this Eucharistic celebration we might make Samuel’s words our own prayer, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." We also pray at this liturgy that we have an attentive heart to hear God and a courageous heart to respond.

Another approach. I worked in a machine shop through high school and part of college. I learned to be a machinist by first being an apprentice. Other machinists taught me how to work the machines, check my results and when to ask for help. I watched and listened to them, for they had the experience I didn’t. We all learn our roles in life by listening and watching how others do it. We need mentors. Samuel did. He did not know what to do when he first heard the voice in the dark. Eli, though initially a bit slow, could teach Samuel what he must say when God spoke again. Say, "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening."

Like Samuel, we are already in God's service. Today, Sunday, we are actually in the Temple "tending the flame" of our faith. But God is calling us to hear more and to follow further. Our lives are not stagnant, nor is our response to God, who may be calling us to a new hearing. Today might also be a good day to give thanks for the mentors in our lives who have taught us how to live our faith and have guided us to know what really counts in life. During the Mass we might call some of them to mind and give thanks for them – these gifts from a God who calls and instructs us through others.

Notice too, the mercy of God in this passage. Samuel doesn't get it at first, so God calls over and over again. God does not abandon us if we don't hear, or if we have gone looking in the wrong places. Rather, God calls again.

The notion of vocation goes through the second reading as well. The Spirit of God dwells in us and makes us holy. God inhabits our human flesh and so we have a dignity given us by God. We aren't made for immorality, nor can we reduce another person to an object. We must see one another as who we are, or can become. Remember too that sexual union is a favorite Hebrew scriptural image for intimacy with God. Our baptismal vocation is a call to holiness and also a call to see the dignity of each person God has created.

The Gospel tells us about seekers who discovering a deeper call. The people in today's story already are people looking for God. John the Baptist is a mentor to his disciples and he points them to another who will be their teacher ("Rabbi"). John uses a favorite image for Jesus, "Lamb of God." It is rich in many biblical meanings, and the commentators warn us not to settle on just one. But we too have had our titles, our names for Jesus. How do we know these titles are still valid for us? Haven't we changed, haven't our lives grown? Who is Jesus for us now and how do we call upon him? We, like the disciples of John, are being invited to follow Jesus at this time in our lives, to spend time with him and to discover who he is for us now. Like the two disciples we are seekers who want to "stay" with Jesus. Can the preacher suggest concrete ways for very busy people to "stay with Jesus"?

John’s disciples have been seekers and it is late in the day for them. They need rest (from their search?) and Jesus is offering it to them. The "four in the afternoon" image may be referring to the beginning of the next day's Sabbath. These disciples will find rest, abiding with Jesus, they will find God's rest and presence. The invitation is to deeper friendship with the Lord. Can we hear it? "Come and see."

The results of being with Jesus are immediate: the new followers go out and call others. They become witnesses to what they have experienced. Which brings up the possibility of not being shy to talk about our faith around others. It is not of our tradition to go around knocking on doors for Jesus (maybe some of us should). But we could be a little more open with others when there is a chance in daily conversations to talk about our faith.

Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:


(A friend sends this prayer for us pilgrims.)

God be in my head and in my understanding.

God be in my eyes and in my looking

God be in my mouth and in my speaking

God be in my heart and in my thinking.

God be at my end and at my parting.


".. .your law is within my heart!"

Psalm 40: 9

I was saddened to read in the news that only 55% of Americans consider Christmas a religious holiday. Perhaps, they believe that Jesus was just a myth. If we can believe that persons such as Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, and Gandhi existed, then Jesus, whose life is recorded in symbolic language of the Gospels, is much more than a myth. Without the birth of this most precious child, the darkness would overcome the world. . . the darkness that thinks life is all about just the material things of this world. From this impoverished and defenseless child, Jesus, would arise a new way to live--in self-giving, nonviolent love seeking justice for the poor and disadvantaged. How precious then are all children and all human life. . .you just never know who may be carrying the inner light of Christ.

How very important, then, that each of us develop a consistent ethic of life. Not familiar with this term? During a lecture at Fordham University on December 6, 1983, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin first articulated what he referred to as the "consistent ethic of life." In light of Catholic Social Teaching on the sacredness of human life and human dignity, Bernardin believes that life issues, broadly understood, are of one piece (a "seamless garment"). In other words, if one is committed to "preserving life" (opposing abortion, euthanasia, etc.), one should also be committed to "enhancing life." As he states: "Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker." Bernardin states, "The purpose of proposing a consistent ethic of life is to argue that success on any one of the issues threatening life requires a concern for the broader attitude in society [both domestic and foreign] about respect for human life." May all be a blessing by letting the light of Christ shine through your good actions for life.

Consider beginning with prayer by participating in the Nine Days for Life Novena (Jan. 18-26). An end to abortion is not the only intention. To sign up:

To read Bernardin’s complete lecture, go to:

For New Pro-Life Movement:

---Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS

Director of Social Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral, Raleigh, NC


Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. "Faith Book" is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.

From today’s Gospel reading:

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,

was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.

He first found his own brother simon and told him,

"We have found the Messiah."


The results of being with Jesus are immediate: new followers go out and call others. They become witnesses to what they have experienced. Which brings up the possibility of not being so shy to talk about our faith around others.

So we ask ourselves:

  • Do I every share my faith with another? How?
  • What are the ways I can witness to my faith in Jesus? Do I?


"One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."

---Pope Francis

Inmates on death row are the most forgotten people in the prison system. Each week I post in this space several inmates’ names and addresses. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of them to let them know we have not forgotten them. If you like, tell them you heard about them through North Carolina’s, "People of Faith Against the Death Penalty." If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Wayne Laws #0234897 (On death row since 8/21/85)
  • Clinton Rose #035933 (12/19/91)

----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network:


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Thank you and blessings on your preaching,

fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

Jude Siciliano, OP - Click to send email.

St. Albert the Great Priory of Texas

3150 Vince Hagan Drive

Irving, Texas 75062-4736


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