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"FIRST IMPRESSIONS"

SECOND SUNDAY (B) JANUARY 17, 2021

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:

PRE-NOTE: 2020 was a difficult year for us all. Think how much more difficult it was for inmates on death row. They don’t have much to look forward to in this new year either. Would you consider sending one of them a card of greeting, prayer and best wishes? We have listed three names below...and each week we post three new ones. Thank you.



St. John reminds us today that the word "rabbi" means "teacher." Which has me returning to earlier school days when teachers were a major part of my life. One in particular. In my sophomore year of college there was an English literature teacher we students admired. At the beginning of the semester we rushed to register for his course – the number he admitted was limited. A few of my friends and I got in and we considered ourselves lucky. We loved his lectures, and when he read Chaucer’s, "Canterbury Tales," we sophomores chuckled because he read it in old English. It sounded like a foreign language compared to our American English. In his classes we took diligent notes, handed in our term papers and took our final exam… Then moved on.

I know Prof. O’Halloran had a lasting influence on me and my love of literature. I look back on his class many years ago with nostalgia, but also with gratitude because what he taught us about reading and interpreting literature has been a gift to me over the years as a reader of Scripture and as a preacher.

There are teachers in John’s Gospel. John the Baptist is one of them and, as any good teacher, he has devoted and admiring disciples. They were impressed by him. But when Jesus walked by John, the temporary teacher, pointed out Jesus to his students, "Behold the Lamb of God." For John’s disciples the image of the Lamb of God would have stirred their imagination. The lamb’s blood had saved the Jewish families enslaved in Egypt. In remembrance of that liberation a lamb was sacrificed and eaten each year at the Passover meal. So, John’s disciples moved from one teacher to follow another, who would stir their imaginations and change their lives

In the other Gospels Jesus himself chooses and calls his future disciples. In John however, these potential disciples are seekers who come to Jesus looking for nourishment and guidance they can’t provide for themselves. What exactly do they want? Well, that is what Jesus wants to know, "What are you looking for?" It is a question he repeatedly asks us each day, as we: make both large and small choices based on our priorities; respond to one another; gather for worship; look for inspirational books to read, or videos to watch during our isolation, etc. "What are you looking for?

The isolation many of us are experiencing these days has limited us in so many ways. But let’s hope it has also given us time to catch our breath, pause and consider who and where we are in our lives right now. Jesus’ question to his disciples makes a good place to begin our introspection: "What are you looking for?" How do our daily lives reflect the answer we are giving to that probing question?

The disciples answer with a seeming-bland response. "Rabbi (John reminds us the name means "teacher") where are you staying?" I like another translation: "Rabbi, where do you live? There are layers of meaning to their question. They could be asking, "Where do you have life?" Or, "Where does your life come from?"

Aren’t we like those disciples? Isn’t there a hunger in us for a life that only he can give us? And, it is not just about the next life. It is life here and now: deep life; a life with purpose and meaning; a life that won’t wear out, or disappoint us; a life no credit card can purchase; a life that travels with us each stage of our lives. (I recall a line from Psalm 90:1, "In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.") The question John’s disciples put to Jesus is ours, "Rabbi, where do you live?" It is also our prayer as well, as we realize a hunger that only he can satisfy.

The potential disciples are not in a high school, or college class with Jesus, the Teacher. He does not offer them a semester’s course – three months and it’s over. He does not ask them to write a term paper, or give a report on a theological theme. Nor is he talking about admiring him from afar – instead he says, "Come and see where I live." Or, "Come and see for yourself where I have my life." Or, "Come and have life with me." Or, "Come and see what gives me life."

We ask Jesus, "Where can we find your life?" At this moment he points to where we are right now: Gathered at the Bread of the Word and the Bread of the Eucharist. And says, "Come and you will see." Then he points outside and adds, "You will also find my life where I have shown you: among the least; in all the human community; in receiving and offering words of forgiveness; in the fruits of the earth; indeed, in all of creation.

In our first reading Samuel is serving the Lord in the Temple. He has been there since his mother Hannah placed him there as an infant (1 Sam 1:24-28). He now receives a call from God that will draw him out of the confined and safe Temple precincts into the world – the way Jesus invited John’s disciples to, "Come and you will see."

Samuel will become God’s prophet out in the turbulent world. He will confront rulers and ordinary folk, as well, and challenge them with God’s Word. Samuel did not receive any dramatic notice to be God’s prophet. Instead, he heard a voice in the middle of the night that awakened him from sleep, drew him from his safe environment and reset his life. Which makes us ask: Is God calling me, in the midst of my daily routine to a new task – large or small – in God’s service?

Hearing and responding to God’s invitation is not only life-changing, but risky. But the fledgling prophet is assured that the Lord is with him. So it is for us, called forth to be God’s spokespersons – risky but, as with Samuel, the Lord is with us.

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

https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/011721.cfm

JUSTICE BULLETIN BOARD

"Your law is within my heart!"

Psalm 40:9

When I read this passage in Psalms, I found myself wondering if the psalmist was thinking of love as being etched on the heart or rather all the rules and regulations of the community of the Old Testament. Perhaps, this is why, in the Letter to the Romans 13:8-10 in the New Testament, Paul makes clear that love fulfills the law. As I write this, I had been watching one of the Wonder Woman movies. In one memorable scene, she is standing in a totally destroyed battlefield and says, "Only love can truly save the world." Then, I later read Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama’s Advent 2020 message that closes with the words, "The future can only be built with love!" If love is the answer to the ills of the world, why aren’t we shouting this from the rooftops every day of the year, so that love becomes the motivating factor in all our decisions? Not a maudlin kind of love, but a powerful life-affirming, justice-making love.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We can easily recall his compelling words for equality, freedom, social justice, and courage. Many of us know his words in support of family, friendship, and forgiveness. However, it is his words about love that really are the root of everything else. Take some time to meditate on his following statements:

  • "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."
  • "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend."
  • "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
  • "Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."
  • "At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love."
  • "I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."

Let us begin exercising love by ending racism. You are invited to attend a 4-session remote webinar, using the USCCB pastoral letter on racism "Open Wide Our Hearts: An Enduring Call to Love," on Thursdays--Jan. 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11--7-8PM. RSVP to socialconcern@hnojnc.org

------Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director,

Office of Human Life, Dignity, and Justice Ministries

Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral

Raleigh, NC

FAITH BOOK

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 1 Samuel reading:

When Samuel went to sleep in his place,

the Lord came and revealed his presence,

calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel."

Reflection:

Samuel did not receive any dramatic notice to be God’s prophet. Instead, he heard a voice in the middle of the night that awakened him from sleep and his safe environment and reset his life.

So we ask ourselves:

  • Is God calling me, in the midst of my daily routine, to a new task – large or small – in God’s service?
  • How is God’s Word stretching me and calling for a response?
  • What might that response be?

POSTCARDS TO DEATH ROW INMATES

"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

This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. Conditions, even without the pandemic, are awful in our prisons. Imagine what it is like now with the virus spreading through the close and unhealthy prison settings. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.

Please write to:

  • Darrell Strickland #0393145 (On death row since 10/27/1995)
  • Jerry Dale Hill #0511057 (10/31/1995)
  • Keith East #0511998 (11/8/1995)

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

For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/

On this page you can sign "The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty." Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/

The Sunday readings for this new liturgical Year B focus on Mark’s Gospel. We have a CD of previous editions of "First Impressions" for Year B, It contains three reflections for almost all the Sundays and major feasts of the year. It also has book reviews and additional essays related to preaching.

In addition, we have also compiled a CD for all three liturgical years (A, B and C)

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage:  https://www.preacherexchange.com/cd.htm.

DONATIONS

"First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at jboll@opsouth.org.

If you would like to support this ministry, please send tax deductible contributions to fr. Jude Siciliano, O.P.

St. Albert Priory 3150 Vince Hagan Drive Irving, Texas 75062-4736

Make checks payable to: Dominican Friars. Or, go to our webpage to make an online donation: https://www.PreacherExchange.com/donations.htm

ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. We have compiled Four CDS for sale:

  • Individual CDs for each Liturgical Year, A, B or C
  • One combined CD for "Liturgical Years A, B and C."

If you are a preacher, lead a Lectionary-based scripture group, or are a member of a liturgical team, these CDs will be helpful in your preparation process. Individual worshipers report they also use these reflections as they prepare for Sunday liturgy.

You can order the CDs by going to our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.com and clicking on the "First Impressions" CD link on the left.

2. "Homilías Domincales" —These Spanish reflections on the Sunday and daily scriptures are written by Dominican sisters and friars. If you or a friend would like to receive these reflections drop a note to fr. John Boll, O.P. at Jboll@opsouth.org.

3. Our webpage: www.PreacherExchange.org - Where you will find "Preachers’ Exchange," which includes "First Impressions" and "Homilías Dominicales," as well as articles, book reviews, daily homilies and other material pertinent to preaching.

4. "First Impressions" is a service to preachers and those wishing to prepare for Sunday worship. It is sponsored by the Dominican Friars. If you would like "First Impressions" sent weekly to a friend, send a note to fr. John Boll, OP at the above email address.


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

frjude@judeop.org

972-438-1626


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