Friday, January 13, 2012

Homily Second Sunday of Ordinary Time B: Fr. Michael U Udoekpo

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time B- Homily by Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: 1 Sam 3:3b-10, 19; Ps 40: 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; and John 1:34-42

"Here I am Lord; I come to do your Will" (Ps 40:8-9).

Dear friends in Christ,

 In the light of the Bible readings of today I will like to invite you to reflect with me on the theme “Here I am Lord I come to do your will.” First of all this Psalm reminds me of my first Religious Profession in the 80s, at the Heart of Mary’ in the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (the Claretian Missionaries), where I received my ever would cherished earliest formation for my Priesthood.

We used this Psalm for the Liturgy of that day. And I was one of those selected to sing the responsorial Psalm 40- “Here I am Lord… I come to do your will….”2x). It’s a song of thanksgiving and supplication during a royal liturgy. A song that recognizes the need “to Fear the Lord”, “to obey the Lord,” “to listen to Him,” “to keep the hrwt (Torah). “ Like the boy Samuel in today’s first reading, it is an invitation to respond generously to God’s call. It is an invitation to a life of holiness. Like Jesus in the Gospel stories, which came completely not to do his will but the will of the Father who sent him, it is a call to imitate Jesus. It is a call to  be like the two diciples in today's gospel, to hear the Lord and follow him.

Jesus was holy and compassionate. He was led to the slaughter like a Lamb. He humbled himself to and enthronement on the cross. With these, he attracted the fellowship of other disciples like, Peter, James and John, who would continue this mission of the will of the Father (Jn, 1:35-42; 5:43 and Matt 12:50).

Often we may be tempted to rationalize, “how do we know the will of God.’? Let us leave this a moment for a class room debate and reflect deeply on the spiritual significance of the contexts of the texts of our worship today.

Today in the first Book of Samuel we hear the familiar story of the call of Samuel, son of Elkanah and Hannah who lived in Temple helping Eli in the priestly duties. One night after Eli had gone to bed, while the light was still burning, and Samuel was sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant, something suddenly happened. He was called!!!
The Lord suddenly called Samuel who answered “Here I am” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you call me.”  “I did not call, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep. This happened three times, Eli understood that the Lord called Samuel and instructed him next time the call came to say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”-$db[ [mv k hwhy rbd.

The participle here, “Listening” = is the “readiness to hear”, the “readiness to receive divine message,” the “readiness to do the will of God.” It is an important participle. Just like our Mary in Luke 1:38 who said to the angel, “behold I am the handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your Words,” each of us, Seminarian, priests, religious, parents and children is invited to say, “ here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”

Samuel did not say, “speak Lord I will hear you,”  “I may hear you,” I might listen to you,” or “ I thought I had listen to you before,” Or “ I am sorry I am sleeping now, call me again  when the day breaks, by then I must have been awake.” Samuel did not say, “Hello God, how can I help you.”!! He was also willing to learn the process of discernment from Eli a veteran priest!

The choice of Samuel,  the rise of Samuel the disposition of Samuel, the willingness of Samuel , to obey, to keep the Torah, to do the will of God, like the Lamb of God is clearer when we go back to read 1 Samuel chapter 2:11-36. Remember this is about the sins of the sons of Eli. In the temple the 2 sons of Eli instead of praying, were stealing the portion of the boiling meat that were meant for the priest (1 Sam 2:11-17).

Unlike Samuel, they abused women who were serving at the entrance of the tent of meeting (v 22). Unlike Samuel, they were concerned for their own profits. They were not interested in keeping the Torah nor doing the will of God. The search, for common good and for the the community was not in their dictionary.

The Sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, unlike Samuel put arbitrariness in place of Torah, human selfishness in place of the will of God. The fact that they acted right there in the Temple, when the meat were still boiling, or took the raw meat went a long way to show the level of their greediness and the sins of the flesh, which weakened their response towards the greater good, namely the will of God.

Following Christ, like Peter, James and John, means staying with, being on the same page with Christ. It means giving Christ our heart and being. It means living a life of holiness. Like, Eli( 1 Sam 2:25), Paul said in the Second Reading  to the troubling early Christian Corinthian community, “Stay away from immorality--- for your bodies are the Lord, they are members of Christ—they are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” Behaving otherwise keeps us away from pursuing or recognizing, like John, “The Lamb of God.”

These are the things that prevent us from doing the will God: sins against the Holy Spirit, acting in selfish way, selfishness, self-absorption, self- indulgence, self- righteousness, self- enthronement, acting in an arbitrary way, not listening to anybody, or the Torah, not listening to our parents nor the teachings of the church, except our desires, drives and passions.

In the opening of the conclave in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI rightly identified these as part of the challenges facing us today. He calls it “Dictatorship of Relativism” (cf Light of the Word, pp.50-59).  A situation where people like the evil sons of Eli would not recognized anything definitive and whose ultimate standard consist solely of satisfying their own egos and desires. Friends, we are called to be pure. We are call to be attentive to the Lord, even through our neighbors, through one another.

 We are called to be like Samuel, ready to listen to the voice and impulses of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through our parents, through “Elis”, through the words of the Holy Scriptures, through our priests and pastors, through our neighbors, through creations, the sea, the moon, the stars, the mountains, oceans, trees, snow, through the Church, songs at Liturgy, the poor and the needy and through our lives of holiness and acts of charity.

May the Lord bless us with grace to always say, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”