Commentary: 2nd Sunday Year B

First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:3b–10, 19

Here we have the call of one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. Samuel was, in a sense, the prophet who anointed the first two kings of Israel: Saul, and then after him, King David. So he was a kind of transition figure between the time of the judges and the time of the monarchy of King Saul, which was around 1020 BC or so.

3 the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

But I love this story too because in the original Hebrew, there’s more then one level of meaning going on, there are puns taking place. Let me explain how. It’s real simple, because the name Samuel in Hebrew literally means “he who hears God”, and the name Eli in Hebrew literally means “my God” – ‘El’ means God, ‘I’ means my. So if you read the story that way, what you are reading is the story of a little boy called “he who hears God” hearing God and then going to a priest and saying “my God, did you speak” and then the priest, Eli (my God) telling him “no, go back, I didn’t say anything.” So it’s ‘punny’, literally, because it’s punning on the fact that God IS speaking to Samuel and Samuel IS listening to his God, but he thinks it’s the priest named ‘my God’ instead of the actual my God, right, the true Eli ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

6 The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Here Samuel embodies what his very name means (“he who hears God”).

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

Psalm: Psalm 40:2, 4, 7–10

1I waited patiently for the Lord;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.

3He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.

Many will see and fear,

and put their trust in the Lord.

6Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,

but you have given me an open ear.

Burnt offering and sin offering

you have not required.

7Then I said, “Here I am;

in the scroll of the book it is written of me.

8I delight to do your will, O my God;

your law is within my heart.”

9I have told the glad news of deliverance

in the great congregation;

see, I have not restrained my lips,

as you know, O Lord.

The Psalm affirms the central theme of listening to God, being open to His will, having an open ear and an obedient heart.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:13c–15a, 17–20

13 “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!

17 But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18 Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

“The dispossession that takes place in these stories of vocation is total, not partial: the whole man enters God’s service bodily, to accompany, see, stay” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar, Light of the World, 162

Gospel: John 1:35–42

35 The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples,

Important to note here that John the Baptist had disciples (Gk: mathētēs; a learner, a student). We find out in verse 40 that one of John’s disciples was Andrew (scholars think the other was John the Apostle). If you are following John the Baptist, you are serious about your spiritual life, you’re serious about the prophecies of Scripture.

36 and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!”

John is using the Jewish custom of riddles and parables here to teach his disciples about the mystery of Jesus. He is alluding — most likely — to the Passover lamb in Exodus 12 & the suffering servant in Isaiah 53, who was silent like a lamb being led to the slaughter bearing the sins of all the people.

37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus.

38 When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?

Jesus’ first words in the Gospel of John are these: “What are you looking for?”

“The Greek there is very powerful, ti zēteite, it literally means what are you seeking/what are you searching after. Think about a heat-seeking missile; it’s a missile that searches after and follows the heat – it pursues it. That’s the imagery Jesus is using here, what are you pursuing?… and we’ll see the whole rest of the Gospel is going to be Him playing out that question. What are people really looking for — just like with the Samaritan woman in John 4, what is she really thirsting for? She’s thirsting for the water of life.” ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

“Discipleship here simply means followership, walking behind Jesus without knowing anything more than that one has been sent. Before long, however, Jesus turns around and looks at the two of them walking toward him. “What are you looking for?” There cannot put it into words, so they ask a question in return: “Master, where do you live?” Tell us where you are at home, so we can get to know you better. “Come and see!” He issues an invitation to accompany him, unaccompanied by any instruction. Only the one who accompanies will see. And the account confirms that this is what happened: “They went with him and saw and stayed.” “Abiding”, or “staying” is the word John uses for Jesus’ ultimate being, the word of faith and of love” ~ Hans Urs von Balthasar, Light of the World, 161

They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?”

“The other level of meaning here that’s interesting is that when the disciples say “where are you staying”, the Greek word that they use there is menó, it literally means “to remain”, and throughout the rest of John’s Gospel that word is going to have great theological significance. To remain or to abide is going to be a key theme. Jesus will say things like, he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, or abides in me, and I abide in him. Or in John 17, Jesus will say, he’ll pray that the disciples will remain in him as he remains in them, that they will still stay in him as he stays in them. So the imagery of remaining means staying in close proximity to Jesus, being in intimacy with Him as a disciple, as a believer. Interestingly, in John’s Gospel we’ll see some people will believe in Jesus but they won’t remain with him. In other words, they’ll accept the teachings about them but they don’t stay with him. Other people, like Jews, are going to stay with him, to remain with him, but they are not going to believe in him. So you have to both believe in Jesus and remain in Jesus… And so this opening passage here with John, in John, with Jesus and his disciples, is about much more than them saying, hey where are you staying for the night. It’s all about discipleship. It’s about the fact that they’re not going to be students of John the Baptist anymore. Now they’re becoming students of Jesus. Now they’re becoming followers of Jesus. In order to be a follower of Jesus, you don’t just have to believe “hey, he is the Lamb of God,” you have to remain with him, you have to stay with him, you have to abide in him. So Jesus invites them into that and says come and see, come and see where I remain, come and see where I abide, so you can learn to live like I live. Ultimately in John’s Gospel as we’ll see, Jesus abides in the bosom of the Father, and that’s where he wants his disciples, like the beloved disciple, to remain in him.” ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

39 He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

“So you might think, why is John telling me that this happened at 4 o’clock? Well on the literal level he’s telling you that because it was 4 o’clock, but there also might be a deeper significance here to that. Within the Jewish context of the first century A.D., they would’ve found a place to stay before sunset, especially if it’s like a Friday afternoon, the eve of Sabbath. So they’re asking where are you staying for the night because they’re not going to be necessarily able to get back to another town before sunsets if it’s already 4 PM in the evening. So they’re going to dwell together in the custom of ancient Jewish hospitality and that’s going to begin their process of discipleship, begin their life of discipleship – with one addition.” ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed).

Andrew has faith before Peter. This is kind of cool, because, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this, Andrew, the apostle, is the great apostolic patriarch of the Eastern churches of the Orthodox churches; they trace their apostolicity back to Andrew, the brother, the younger brother, so to speak, of Peter, who was the head of the Western church. So it’s interesting that the father of Eastern Christians, Andrew, believes before the father of the Western Christians. Just like the Eastern Christians themselves brought the faith to the West. That’s just kind of an interesting spiritual meaning there, but Andrew brings Peter to Christ. ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

“Having recognized the prophet foretold by the prophets, Andrew led his brother to the one he had found. To Peter, who was still in ignorance, he revealed the treasure: “We have found the Messiah” for whom we were longing. How many sleepless nights we spent beside the waters of the Jordan, and now we have found the one for whom we longed!” ~ St. Basil of Seleucia, Sermon 3-4; trans. E. Barnecutt

Andrew had already been looking for the Messiah. His heart was prepared by being a disciple of John the Baptist to encounter. His spiritual life was advanced.

42 He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

“Now, you might be thinking hold on, I thought Jesus renamed Peter after Peter made a profession of faith at Caesarea Philippi, after he had been his disciple for a while. And that’s true, in the Gospel of Matthew 16, Peter does make that profession of faith. But what John tells us is that Jesus already knew who Peter was and what his role was going to be from the very first time they encountered one another. We don’t actually get to hear what Peter thinks or what he says here because John just brings the story to an end, but it’s important because it does actually correct the statement that people sometimes have. You might hear a non-Catholic Christian say, for example, that when Jesus says to Peter in Matthew’s Gospel “you are rock, and upon this rock I will build my church” that Jesus is actually pointing to himself. That he is the rock, but not Peter. Well John 1 shows that’s just not true. Jesus is very clearly here identifying Simon as the one whose name will now be rock; this is all about Peter becoming the rock.” ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

“Neither is there anything contradictory here to that other passage where Matthew tells us how the Lord said to Peter, “You are Peter, and on this rock will I build my church” (Matt 16:18). But we are not to understand that that was the time when he first received this name. We are rather to suppose that this took place on the occasion when it was said to him, as John mentions, “You shall be called Cephas…” ~ Augustine, Harmony of the Gospels, 2.17.34; trans. In J.C. Elowsky, p. 81

“there’s nothing impossible whatsoever about Jesus meeting Peter on that first occasion, prophesying you shall be called Cephas, in other words in the future, and then bringing his own prophecy to fulfillment at Caesarea Philippi when Peter finally confesses Jesus’s Messiah-ship and divine Son-ship saying you are Peter now” ~ Dr. Brant Pitre

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