Sunday Sermon for January 15, 2012, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Readings: 1Sam 3:3b-10, 19; 1Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42

In the first reading we hear about the call of Samuel when, as a boy, he slept in the Temple of the Lord where he served the elderly priest, Eli. Although the priest was not what he ought to be in the Lord’s service he, nonetheless, gave Samuel the right advice, telling him to respond “speak Lord, your servant is listening” if he should hear the Lord’s call again.

Samuel did hear the Lord and did as he had been instructed. His obedience and desire to do the will of God were so great that, we are told, God did not allow a single word of his to be without effect.

In the Gospel we are told about the call of Peter who, before our Lord called him personally, is told by his brother, Andrew, that he had found the Messiah. Peter immediately follows Andrew and comes to Jesus where he receives his call and a change of name to signify the change in his life.

What we see in both of these stories is the desire to do the will of God. Sometimes we wonder why God has not called us personally. Well, He has. St. Paul, in the second reading, tells us that we are members of Christ. Indeed, on the day of our baptism we were given a name. We did not have to change our name since, prior to being baptized, we did not have a name (assuming infant baptism). Regardless of that, the fact that we were baptized into Jesus and called by name in that baptism demonstrates that each of us has been called by God.

He may not speak to us clearly like He did with Samuel or the other Prophets, and we do not speak face to face with Him as did Peter, but we can always speak with Him in prayer and in the Eucharist. Of course, it is not the norm for people to hear the Lord speak and carry on conversation with Him. However, since it does happen sometimes, we need to ask the prior question: how much do we want to know and do the will of God?

Both Peter and Samuel were intent on the Lord. Peter did not hesitate for a moment when Andrew brought him the message that he had found the Messiah. You were baptized into Him, but have you found Him? Do you desire to be with Him? Even with John and Andrew, their faith was evident since they had been following St. John the Baptist before following the Lord. They were looking for the Messiah, are we?

Each of us knows Jesus, but how important is He to us? In the Gospel reading we are told that John and Andrew stayed with the Lord the rest of the day. How much time do we spend with the Lord? The actual Greek word used in this passage is better translated “remained.” So, we are to remain with our Lord, even if we are away from the Blessed Sacrament.

St. Paul says that whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with Him and he reminds us that our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit Who dwells within us. If we are one Sprit with the Lord, we cannot separate ourselves from Him (except by mortal sin). We see that He has done everything possible to remain with us, but do we really want to remain with Him? We cannot very well complain about having nothing extraordinary happening in our spiritual lives when we do not even begin to fulfill the ordinary things, such as desiring Him, wanting to hear Him, wanting to do His will, etc.

This being said, we have to remember that the spiritual life is not about visions and voices, it is about loving God and striving to do His will. It is a rare thing to hear about someone seeking God’s voice selfishly and hearing Him. On the other hand, those who do experience extraordinary things are not seeking them nor do they want them. Their only real desire is to be united with God and to do His will.

In the Old Testament times the people of Israel believed that God dwelt among them, especially in the Temple. You are the Temple of the Lord and God dwells with you. Unlike Peter who would have had to walk eighty miles in order to get to the Temple, wherever you are, there is the Lord with you. We also have the advantage of knowing that Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament, and for most people today it is not very difficult to get there.

God has chosen to remain with us, have we chosen to remain with Him? We have to start by praying for the desire to do His will.

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit