First Week in Ordinary Time
1st Reading: 1Sam 1:1-8
There was a certain man from Ramathaim, Elkanah by name, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.He had two wives, one named Hannah, the other Peninnah; Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man regularly went on pilgrimage from his city to worship the Lord of hosts and to sacrifice to him at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were ministering as priests of the Lord. When the day came for Elkanah to offer sacrifice, he used to give a portion each to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters, but a double portion to Hannah because he loved her, though the Lord had made her barren. Her rival, to upset her, turned it into a constant reproach to her that the Lord had left her barren. This went on year after year; each time they made their pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the Lord, Peninnah would approach her, and Hannah would weep and refuse to eat. Her husband Elkanah used to ask her: “Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you refuse to eat? Why do you grieve? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
Gospel: Mk 1:14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
AND THEY FOLLOWED HIM: We have all received a special call from the Lord, but the first reading gives emphasis on the call to marriage. Marriage is highly esteemed in most African cultures. Almost every youth dreams of the day he will settle in marriage, and have offsprings. That is why we see Hannah preoccupied with getting a son, weeping and not eating. She is not preoccupied by the love which her husband has for her. In addition to being detached to our offsprings, we are also attached to our parents like the sons of Zebedee. Due to this it was not easy for them to leave their father. However, they chose to follow Jesus. They chose to become fishers of men. Today, we are invited to become fishers of men in our families – making children followers of Christ. Like Elkanah, may all fathers spearhead the spirituality in their families.
Prayer: O God, help us to turn our families into schools of love, so that our children may follow your Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
GOD’S CALLING IS SPECIAL: In today’s reading, Jesus calls four fishermen at the Sea of Galilee – Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. We wonder what made them to respond promptly to Jesus and following him. Did they know Him already? Or was this their first contact with Him? In any case there was something remarkably compelling about Jesus to cause these and others to follow Him into an uncertain future. The astonishing feature of the story is that they followed Jesus with no idea of where it would lead. The four in today’s story were fishermen. But these would be the persons who would continue Jesus’ work on earth after He left -ordinary people, like you and me. They were called. As far as we know, every one of the disciples was chosen and called personally by Jesus. God’s call is always into an uncertain future. When we enter into our callings we have no idea how it will all end up. Faith tells us that God is in command! That would suffice.
THE SPRING OF HOPE: They say language is the vehicle of knowledge and a disciple, the master’s extension. Jesus has a unique philosophy in picking those to assist and represent Him. In the selecting of his first disciples Jesus displays a method. He does not care about their roots or their upbringing. He neither waits for their consent nor gives them an option. Rather, He gives them a possibility. He offers them an ideal to work on and asks them to live on a different plane. “Come after me, I will make you fishers of Men” (Mk 1: 17). Jesus uses language to confer knowledge about the Kingdom of God. He desires to extend His work through His disciples. In seeking them, Jesus offers an invitation, “Together we can have a better world.” He does not line up strategies and techniques. Rather, He calls them to live with Him. We too are invited to join Jesus in building God’s Kingdom. What is our response?