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Old Testament:                 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
Psalm                                  139
Epistle:                               1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Gospel:                               John 1:43-51

Hello friends, my name is Dr. Mark Hobson, and welcome to this homily on the readings for the Second Sunday after Epiphany. We will begin our video teaching today with the proclamation of the Gospel.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John + (May the Word of the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart).

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”

The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Christ!

Our first reading today from the prophet Samuel is about the calling of Samuel from God as he was ministering under the priest Eli. We recall that Samuel’s mother was unable to have children until she prayed in the Temple for a child, and Eli proclaimed over her, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” Hannah’s story of a miraculous pregnancy is one of many such stories in the Bible, including Sarah, Elizabeth and Mary. Hannah promised Eli that her child would be dedicated to the Lord; and he was. As a boy, Samuel lived with the Temple priests. In our reading today, we hear Samuel is called three times by the Lord. In the Bible, God often said something three times to emphasize importance. Eli again proclaims, this time over Samuel, “It is the Lord (who calls you); let him do what seems good to him.” Samuel grew into a great prophet and judge in Israel.

In Psalm 139, we read how the Lord created us and is always with us. The psalmist seems to echo the calling of Samuel, Jesus, and all of us. We hear: “Lord, you have searched me out and known me; you know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting-places and are acquainted with all my ways,” (v. 1-2).

Our Epistle today is the first letter to the Corinthians, and we hear the famous phrase of Saint Paul that reinforces our calling from the Lord: “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? For you were bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body, (v. 19-20). God created us to be holy.

Finally, in the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus call two more disciples, Philip and Nathanael. Jesus only needs two words for Philip’s calling: “Follow me.” Nathanael is more discerning. He asks, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see,” (v. 46). When Nathanael saw Jesus he was convinced and responded, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” (v. 49). Jesus responds that Nathaneal will see great miracles, and Jesus refers to Himself as Jacob’s ladder in Genesis (28), where heaven and earth meet.

All our readings today have some aspect of being called and answering the call. Let’s focus on John’s Gospel story. Firstly, we know that John’s Gospel is written in a different fashion than Matthew, Mark, and Luke. We see the difference from the prologue when we hear Jesus is the Logos or Word of God who existed from all time with the Father. Jesus is the “reason” behind all creation. His coming to the world at this time and place is ordained by God. Secondly, John has various themes in his Gospel, including “seeing, hearing, and knowing.” We see this theme played out with Nathanael. He sees Jesus, he hears Jesus speak with him, and now he knows Him, and believes. That leads us to our third point, that in John’s Gospel, seeing is believing. John uses the Greek words for seeing as both the perception of sight, and the insight of knowing. In John’s Gospel, believers have a physical vision of Jesus in action, and a faith vision for understanding Jesus is the Messiah because of what He says and does. We see these three themes in the calling of Nathanael, in the man born blind, and in the calling of the Samaritan woman at the well. Throughout the Gospel, seeing and hearing Jesus leads to knowing and believing in Him. Why do these themes matter to us, today, as disciples?
At one point in the Gospel, (14:9), Philip asks Jesus to show the disciples the Father. Jesus responds, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.” We experience Jesus through the Church when hear the Scriptures. We experience Jesus when we see and taste the sacrament of communion. We experience Jesus through our eyes of faith in the Church, in prayer, and in one another. This story of Nathanael matters because it reflects our story. At some time as adults, we became more firmly rooted in faith. We began to read Scripture, to pray, to go to Church, and to participate in a Sacramental life that brought us closer to God. The water of baptism, the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, our belief in the Word of God are the sacramental or sacred signs that we are different than we used to be – we are called by God, and we answered the call. You would not be listening or reading this teaching if you did not answer the call to “Follow Him.” Through faith, you know God. Your calling and mine means we have a destiny to fulfill and we must leave a positive mark on our generation.

In closing, I suggest we refer to some basics. Firstly, let’s put God first in our lives. Upon awakening, let us thank God for the gift of life and a new day. Secondly, let’s make time each day to pray and read the Scriptures. Let’s stay close to God and come to know Him more and better through a daily ritual that we keep sacred. Thirdly, as an outward sign of our commitment, let us faithfully attend church in a community of believers and become actively involved in some capacity sharing our gifts. Fourthly, let us perform acts of charity within our resources. Perhaps we may support our church and others less fortunate than us, again, within our means. Finally, let us be the most charitable and kind to those who are closest to us; to those God has given to us as family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

While God is not following us around each day with a checklist, He is present to us and in us all day, every day. Our outward self must match our inner Spirit. When we align who we are on the inside with what we do on the outside, our calling will grow deeper, and we will experience joy in this alignment. We will hear God’s voice. We will see the Lord clearly. We will be a more genuine disciple. No deceit will be found in us. We are designed to be holy. We are Temples of the Holy Spirit. May the Lord bless you richly in this new year and may your renewed faith take you in a new direction of a richer, more abundant life in Jesus Christ!
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