Personal and Communal Faith

01-17-2021Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

The major message of the readings this weekend is that the call of God is actually directed to each of us and each of us must respond. We must remember and appreciate that each of us is called, but none of us is called alone. We have faith that is personal, but also communal.

In reading the Old Testament with its many stories of people called by God, we learn that God summoned the leaders of Israel in both dramatic and quiet ways. Moses was called by the voice of God from out of a burning bush; the prophet Isaiah discovered his vocation in a fiery vision in the temple. In our first reading, we learn of a different invitation from God, one that is most likely similar to our own. We must remember that Hannah, Samuel's mother, was unceasingly pleading with God for a son and God answered her with the child Samuel. Our reading for this weekend begins with the young man Samuel in the temple when he hears a voice calling out. Eventually, Samuel does come to understand he is being called by God. He then listens, speaks, and then finally he obeys. Samuel is the first prophet during the time of the monarchy.

Our Gospel this weekend follows thematically from last week's Baptism of the Lord Gospel. We must note that the Gospel writer John does not directly relate the actual Baptism, but instead only refers to it. In this passage, he calls Jesus "the Lamb of God." In the language in which John the Baptist would have spoken in this scene, that is Aramaic, the word 'Tayla" can mean either "lamb: or "servant." This John is pointing out Jesus as the servant of God and that the disciples should go and run after Him. When they reach Him, He asks what they are searching for. They have no real answer but instead, ask Him where he is staying. Jesus responds quite simply: "Come, and see." They do and this is their call. This invitation was spread about by Andrew, whose brother Simon then shows up. Simon came and responded to the call and soon he has a new name "the Rock." He would be the foundation of the new people of God, which will be called in time 'the church".

This Gospel story has many interpretations and meanings for us, but one of the most significant ones is that our faith is not a "personal or private" one; rather, it must be lived and shared with others. Our faith has an essential communal dimension. Many today in the name of "piety or orthodoxy" are trying to make our faith and Tradition and Way of Life just "Jesus and me." Like the early disciples, especially Peter, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus and then share it with others. Both elements, personal and communal, are required of a follower of Jesus Christ, especially in the Catholic Tradition.

Fr. Brian