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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 Theme of this Sunday's readings: The Call and the Response
In today's First Reading and Gospel Reading we have two examples of individuals God calls to take up a holy mission of service. The first is the prophet Samuel who is called when he is still a child and the adopted member of a priestly family. The second is a robust fisherman in the prime of life. In each case, these two very different individuals responded to God's invitation to service in the same way. They gave up everything to follow a divine calling. This is the kind of humility and self-sacrifice that is a pleasing offering to God (Psalm's Reading). It is the sacrifice that is made when one completely offers up one's self as a Temple of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God, acknowledging that our bodies, as St. Paul writes in the Second Reading, "have been purchased at a price" by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross.

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.

The name "Samuel" (in Hebrew "name of god") appears twenty-four times in 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 had given 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 duty to make certain that the seven oil lamps did not burn out. 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; however, that Samuel was allowed to perform this duty may show that he had been fully incorporated into Eli's family or it may be another indication that Eli was not being obedient to the Law concerning maintaining 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). 

The Tabernacle was composed of two sacred spaces: The Holy Place that housed the golden lampstand, the golden table of the Bread of the Presence, and the golden Altar of Incense. The Holy of Holies was the sacred space beyond the Holy Place (to the west) that was entered only once a year on the Feast of Yom Kippur (Feast of Atonement) by the high priest (Lev 16:1f). It was where the Ark of the Covenant rested, and it was where God dwelt in the midst of His people between the two golden cherubim of the Mercy-seat that was the lid of the Ark of the Covenant and God's throne of grace (Ex 25:21-22). 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 was calling to Samuel from the Holy of Holies. 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 who was 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 and Matthew 12:40, 41; 16:4 and Luke 11:29, 30, 32 in Jesus' three times repetition of comparisons to the prophet Jonah that is fulfilled in the fourth "sign" that is Jesus' death, burial and Resurrection. In each "calling," Yahweh says Samuel's name twice, as He did when He called Abraham in Genesis 22:11; Jacob in Genesis 46:2; and Moses in Exodus 3:4.

Notice that Eli instructs Samuel to answer God by using God's Divine Name (Yahweh) and that Samuel follows those instructions, speaking God's Divine Name and saying: "Speak Yahweh; for your servant is listening" (literal translation in the Hebrew text). The false piety that was introduced centuries later that forbade the speaking aloud of God's Divine Name outside the Temple liturgical services or writing God's Divine Name is not found in Sacred Scripture where the divine Name is regularly written and spoken aloud by people in the Biblical narrative. 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 and now He has stepped 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 he 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

In this psalm attributed to David, the psalmist is celebrating what God has done for him. He begins with a confession that he was in distress and called on the Lord who heard him in his time of need. The Lord delivered him and in response he sings a new song—a hymn that is a confession of praise to God (verse 4).

7 Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
The psalmist understands the true meaning of sacrificial offerings made to the Lord God in liturgical worship. It is not the animal the Lord wants as a sin sacrifice. The Lord wants willing obedience of the offerer to the commandments and 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 being obedient to the precepts of the Law. The Law isn't just words on a page (scroll), but 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 liturgically assembly of worship so that others may hear of the good things God has done for him.

The Second Reading 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20 ~ The Body of the Baptized is the Temple of the Holy Spirit
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.

In this passage, St. Paul condemns the sin of fornication (sexual relations outside the Sacrament of Marriage) and explains how gravely offensive this sin is to Jesus. He reminds the Corinthians that, in the Sacrament of Christian baptism, they have been reborn to new life in Christ, and their bodies have been transformed into 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, Christians have the responsibility to keep holy the temples of their bodies. They have no right to abuse their bodies with sins of immorality, because 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; Universal Catechism # 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 disciples of his own; they were a group set apart by his form of ritual baptism of repentance. They had their own 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), while others became Jesus' disciples like St. Andrew and his friend,  who the Fathers of the Church identify as St. John Zebedee (Jn 1:35-40).

"Behold, the Lamb of God."
This is the second time the Baptist has identified Jesus as a sacrificial lamb. The word used in the Greek is amnos. The word occurs in John only here 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 is used of Christ 30 times in the book of Revelation. It is a word specifically used by the Apostle St. John to identify the glorified Redeemer, which may be the reason it is not used 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 are told 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 who are called by Jesus while fishing on the Sea of Galilee (although Luke does leave 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.

This is information that is not provided in the Synoptic Gospels. For the first time we realize that some of the Apostles knew Jesus before He 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 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. The question is—what time is the "tenth hour"? 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; in other words, it was in perfection of time 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: http://www.agapebiblestudy.com/charts/jewishtimedivision.htm .

 In the Jewish method of marking time, the day began sundown. The entire day was divided into two divisions of 12 hours each. The nighttime 12 hours are divided into 4 watches and the daytime 12 seasonal hours are divided to correspond with the Tamid liturgical worship service and sacrifice in the Temple that begins 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. However, if the disciples of John the Baptist stayed with Jesus "that day" (verse 39) until sundown, there wasn't much day left. The Jewish day ended at sundown which was the seasonal hour of 6 PM or in Jewish time the 12th hour, which gives them only 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 was located in the 3rd 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 12 noon and from 12 noon to 12 midnight. 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 new Aramaic name Jesus gave him—the Aramaic name "Kepha" or "Rock", or perhaps in Galilean Aramaic "Qepha"; it is written as "Petros" in Greek text of the other Gospels and New Testament books. Of the Gospels, only the fourth Gospel gives this form of Peter's name, but it is also the preferred name that St. Paul uses when he refers to St. Peter (see for example Gal 2:9, 11).

The writer of the 4th 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 to be written), so 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 genuine Greek name. "Symeon" would be a better Greek transliteration for his Hebrew name which is Sim'on. Since Symeon is never used and since his brother Andrew has no Hebrew name equivalent, it seems these brothers were known by their Greek names.

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

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

"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 verses 15-17, three times), but in the Gospel of Matthew 16:17 Simon is identified as the "son of Jonah." 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/or the word from that root, "hesed" which 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 holy Fathers of the Church taught if there seemed to be a conflict or discrepancy in Scripture, the error is with the interpretation. The passage that causes the conflict is found in Matthew 16:17 where Jesus, talking to Simon-Peter says: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah!"  Yet, four times in St. John's Gospel, Simon is identified as the "son of John" (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."  Now, if Simon is not the son of a man named "Jonah" why would Jesus refer to him this way? The problem is that a passage must never be taken out of context. 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 previous Matthew chapters, Jesus has been talking about the Old Testament prophet Jonah. In Matthew 12:39-16:4, there are 6 references to Jonah found in 5 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 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 His redemption for mankind. The question is what will be similar in Simon/Peter's mission as God's emissary and Jonah's mission? Jonah was sent to the Gentile city of Nineveh, the capital of the world's superpower in the 8th century BC, the Assyrian Empire, to preach repentance and that salvation was only through the One True God. St. Peter will be send to Rome, the Gentile capital of the world superpower, the Roman Empire, and his mission will be to convert the Romans and through them the rest of the world.

Abraham was the physical "rock" from which the children of Israel were formed, but Peter is to be the spiritual "Rock" who is the father of the New Covenant children of Israel—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 becomes 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