Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, January 14, 2017 — “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord”

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 65

Art: The Charge to Peter by James Tissot

Reading 1  1 SM 3:3B-10, 19

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
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.
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.”At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
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.
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,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

Responsorial Psalm PS 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

R. (8a and 9a) Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading II  1 COR 6:13C-15A, 17-20

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
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?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore glorify God in your body.

Alleluia JN 1:41, 17B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
We have found the Messiah:
Jesus Christ, who brings us truth and grace.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel JN 1:35-42

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
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?”
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.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
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.

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From The Monastery of Christ in the Desert
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My sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,

We are all called to follow the Lord Jesus.  Just as all peoples of the Old Covenant, the Old Testament, were called to be faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are we and especially now that we have Christ Jesus as the final revelation.  The Book of Samuel shows us that we must wait on the Lord and listen for His Word.  The First Letter to the Corinthians tells us that the redemption of our body is part of this plan.  And the Gospel reminds us that sometimes we set out to seek the Lord and find out that it was the Lord who called us first.

Discipleship!  We want to be faithful to this God who has sent His Only Son to save us and who gives us His Own Spirit.   We are all a bit like Samuel in the first reading today, from the First Book of Samuel:  we are confused about who is calling us.  Often we can think that it is our human situation or some friend or a spouse or a religious superior who is calling us—and only then we find out that truly it was the Lord Himself. Every day we can prepare ourselves.  We can make the words of Samuel our own:  “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

Yet how can we say that we are listening if we do not spend time reading the Scriptures and listening to the Word of God?  How can we say that we are listening if we never attend Church services?  How can we say that we are listening if we do not listen to the presence of God in our sisters and brothers?

The second reading, from the Letter to the Corinthians reminds us that our bodies are sacred gifts of God and not to be misused.  Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.  Today we can find so many ways to numb our bodies with pleasure, with addictions with distractions and with countless way of destruction.  We must recognize that our bodies are truly joined to the Lord and members of Christ Himself.

The Gospel brings us back to this direct form of discipleship.  In this account from the Gospel of John, it is the followers of John the Baptist who are now seeking out Jesus because of the testimony of John the Baptist.  It is clear from this account that Andrew was completely converted by this short encounter with Jesus because he goes to his own brother, Simon, and tells him:  We have found the Messiah!!  We can only imagine the incredible message that was to Simon.  Most likely Simon had his doubts because that seemed to be part of his nature, but he went along and he also becomes completely converted.

Jesus has shown them a path of life that convinced them that He, Jesus, was the long awaited Messiah, the Savior, the one who could lead them to the Lord.  May Jesus be that Messiah and Savior in our lives.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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14 JANUARY, 2018, Sunday, 2nd Week, Ordinary Time
USE YOUR BODY FOR THE GLORY OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ 1 SAM 3:3-10,191 COR 6:13-15,17-20JOHN 1:35-42   ]

“Here I am, Lord!  I come to do your will.  You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings, but an open ear.  You do not ask for holocaust and victim.  Instead, here am I.  In the scroll of the book it stands written that I should do your will.  My God, I delight in your law in the depth of my heart.”  Indeed, these words of the psalmist explain to us what it means to do the will of God.  Doing God’s will is more than just offering sacrifices, coming for mass every Sunday, or even giving charity to the poor.

Doing God’s will is to offer our body as a living sacrifice to God.  This is what the Lord did and this is what St Paul is asking of us.   Although the second reading is in the context of sexual promiscuity, it must be understood in a broader sense.  The basis for purity in sexual relationship is founded on the fact that the body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit.  Fornication is a sin simply because we sin against our own body, which is not our own.  St Paul said, “You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for. That is why you should use your body for the glory of God.”

Our body, therefore, must be used to give glory to God and for His service.  God gives us good health and the ability to work not simply for ourselves, our enjoyment, but so that we can give glory to Him in our service to others.   Using our body for the glory of God means that we will not do anything with our body that will bring disrepute to Him.  We do not want others to see and despise us for the wrong things that we do.  Rather, in all that we say and do, we want to be God’s glory, praise and presence to them.

Regardless of what we do, we must do all things for the greater glory of God.  This is the motto of St Ignatius.  Indeed, St Ignatius teaches us that it is important for us not just to do the right things or do good works, but to do it for the right motives.  The truth is that we can do good work for ulterior motives; money, fame, recognition, approval or drawing attention to ourselves.   We might, out of sloth, postpone less glamorous or hard work and responsibilities that we should be doing.  St Paul also urges us to use our body for the glory of God.  “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.”  (1 Cor 10:31)  “I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.” (1 Cor 10:33)  Indeed, following St Ignatius, let us begin our work with the ultimate end in mind, which is for the greater glory of God.  Anything lesser will mean that we seek for lesser goals in life.  This, then, is the way to give glory to God in our body as individuals and as His Church.

This is true even for those of us who are sickly or suffering due to old age.  Until our sickness, we thought we could do great things for Christ and His Church.  But with health failing, there are many things we cannot do.  We have to live with many constraints and humble ourselves to depend on people for our needs.   Many of us who are elderly do not like this feeling of dependence on others.  We are so used to doing things ourselves.  But now we feel bad that we have to trouble people.   Sometimes our caregivers are not so patient and are irritable.  We have to tolerate their moods and occasional harsh words and their impatience at our slowness.  Yet, this is the glory of God that we are called to manifest to others through the way we carry our crosses in our illness.  When we do not lament or grumble but faithfully and willingly accept God’s will for us, in cheerfulness and patience, we show the love of God even to our caregivers.

Indeed, it is not how many achievements we make at the end of our lives but how we have consecrated our life to God according to the circumstances we are in.   Success in life is not measured as in the world, by numbers.  It is not the number of trophies we have earned, the number of people we have helped; or the number of talks and inspiring things we have done.   Rather, it is how we give ourselves in doing the will of God concretely, according to the talents and opportunities and the constraints that we face.  God does not look at our works but our heart.

This is what holiness is all about!  Doing His will as Jesus did.  This was what all the great saints did as well.  St Theresa of the Child Jesus wanted to be a great missionary for Christ but she was sickly and had to remain in the convent.  She died at the young age of 24.  So too the two seers at our Lady of Fatima.  Francisco and Jacinta died at the tender age of 11 and 10 from illness.  Not all are called to be St Ignatius or St Francis Xavier who were great missionaries.  In the final analysis, it does not matter.   It is how we live a life of devotion to God’s will in the situation He calls us.

But to do His will, we must listen to Him.  Like Samuel, before we can say, “Here I am, Lord!”, we must first listen.  This calls for discernment of the spirit as what St Ignatius also asks of us.  The secret is to listen to the Word of God.  God speaks to us not because of our rank, position or wisdom in life.  He did not call Eli but He called Samuel.  So when the Lord calls us, we must say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”   Listening to the Lord is the key in which we do God’s will and find the strength to offer our body for His greater glory.

Indeed, we read, “Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and let no word of his fall to the ground.” We too must always be grounded in the Word of God so that we will walk the way of truth and not be deceived by our own spirit or the spirits of the world.  “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Tim 3:16f)  Again, St Paul exhorts us, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  (Col 3:16f)

This was the way of the apostles.  In today’s gospel, Jesus invited the disciples of John who were seeking the truth to “come and see.”  And “so they went and saw where he lived, and stayed with him the rest of that day.”  Jesus did not teach them merely by words but by His life.   Indeed, that day spent with Jesus left an indelible impression on them.  It was such a significant event in the lives of the disciples that the evangelist noted the time.  “It was about the tenth hour.”   In His very life, Jesus manifested the love and mercy of God.  It was not what He said or did but how He lived his life that made them conclude who Jesus was.  “Early next morning, Andrew met his brother and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ – which means the Christ – and he took Simon to Jesus.”

Today, if we want to be the glory of God for others, we too must come to Jesus.  If we allow ourselves to be loved by Him and be saturated with His presence, then we too will be the presence of God to others.   Being with Jesus is the key to ministry and being His apostles.  We read that the two disciples could reach out to the others to tell them about Jesus, first to Simon Peter and later to Nathaniel, only because they stayed with Jesus,.  The desire to bring others to Jesus presupposes that we have encountered Him deeply.  Without this prior encounter and personal discovery of who Jesus is for us, we cannot share with others what Jesus had done for us.

What happens when we meet Jesus?  We are given a new identity and a new image.  This was true for Simon Peter.  “Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas’ – meaning Rock.”  In encountering Jesus, we come to realize our true identity and calling in life.  Jesus is the One who offers us the fullness of life. Meeting Jesus changes us, our perspective in life, our meaning in life.  This transformation from our encounter with Jesus is also seen in the conversion experience of the skeptical Nathaniel. “When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’” (Jn 1:4749)

Indeed, when we know Jesus and are baptized into Him, we become members of His body.  This is what St Paul says in the second reading. “You know, surely, that your bodies are members making up the body of Christ; anyone who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with him.”   We are no longer just an individual but we are members belonging to Christ.  For this reason, as an individual and together as a community, we are the Church.  We are called to be the Sacrament of Jesus, to edify Him as an individual and as a community.  We too must bring others to Jesus as the apostles did after encountering Him.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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