Lectionary Reflections: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [b] January 18, 2015

Engaging Faith | Sat, Jan 17, 2015

By John Bucki, S.J.
Source: Center of Concern

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [b]

January 18, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Center of Concern


1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19

1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20

John 1:35-42



January 16: Religious Freedom Day -  

January 19: Martin Luther King Day observed

January 18 – 25: Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - 

January 22-23: National Prayer Vigil for Life



Lord, help us to recognize you in the sick, poor and suffering.

- Pope Francis @Pontifex, January 5, 2015


The social message of the Gospel must not be considered a theory but a basis and a motivation for action. 

- Pope John Paul II


Solidarity is learned through "contact" rather than through "concepts", and should permeate the sphere of being before that of acting.

- Pope John Paul II, Mary 5, 2000


Now is the time for a new "creativity" in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by "getting close" to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters.

- Pope John Paul II, Centensius Annus


In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character.  We must begin to ask, 'Why are there forty million poor people in a nation overflowing with such unbelievable affluence? Why has our nation placed itself in the position of being God's military agent on earth...? Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world for the high task of putting our own house in order?'"

- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr


Today people are suffering from poverty, but also from lack of love.

- Pope Francis @Pontifex Dec 30, 2014


We pray for a heart which will embrace immigrants. God will judge us upon how we have treated the most needy.

- Pope Francis @Pontifex 8 Jul 2013


Racism is an evil which endures in our society and in our Church.  ….  Racism and economic oppression are distinct but interrelated forces which dehumanize our society.

- Brothers and Sisters to Us, U.S. Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Racism, 1979


Thoughts for your consideration

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King Day.  It is a good time to connect the scriptures to the challenge of justice in our nation, especially racial justice.

In the first reading, God keeps calling until Samuel hears.

Samuel finally begins to hear God with the guidance and help of Eli.

It takes a while.  It takes awhile to discern. It takes a while to listen.


As is true in every age, God keeps calling to us again and again.

Sometimes it takes us a while to hear God’s word and accept the call.

God calls to us in the needs of the poor, in the distorted values in our economic systems, in the experience of immigrants and refugees, in the violence inflicted on people caught up in war, in the injustices embedded our political systems, in the abuse of our environment, in the racial divides in our nation, and in countless experiences each day.  Sometimes it takes us quite a few times before we hear the call.  We need guidance and help to see and hear.  We need community to begin to respond to the call.

In the United States, it has been taking us a very long time to understand and to begin to heal the racial divides in our country. The history of injustice goes back hundreds of years to reality of slavery and then “Jim Crow” laws, and the “new Jim Crow” of the last few decades. Racial injustice has been brought to our attention in various recent events and the recent deaths of so many people: Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, John Crawford Ill, Michael Brown, Jr., Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and then the two police officers in New York.  In all of these events we hear a call today, to reflect, to learn, to understand, and to change and recreate.  

The disciples in the gospel are looking for something.  

John the Baptist points to Jesus.

The disciples begin to stay with Jesus and listen to the call.

With the help and vision of Jesus they begin to see everything anew.

The vision of Jesus is one of inclusivity and welcome and justice.

Today we too are looking for something.

We are looking for values that we can live by, for help with the economic and political problems of the day, for a healing of the racial divide in our nation, for an end to war and conflict, for justice and peace, for a government that will work well and promote the common good. We need guidance and help to find what we seek. We need to help one another and we need God’s spirit to see the truth and act together.

The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, recently wrote a pastoral reflection on race called The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015.  It can be read at

 It gives us an example of someone trying to listen to the events of today and of someone trying to discern the call of God for justice in our society.



A man traversed land and sea to check for himself the Master's extraordinary fame.

"What miracles has your Master worked?" he said to a disciple.

"Well, there are miracles and miracles. In your land it is regarded as a miracle if God does someone's will. In our country it is regarded as a miracle if someone does the will of God."

© Anthony de Mello, S.J., - 


The Goal: To Remember Each Jim Crow Killing, From The '30s On

Look at various stories about killings at:  


Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

How have you experienced racial injustice in your life?

When or how have you been able to share your experiences and questions with others?


When have you experienced a call from God?

When and how did this call involve a concern for peace and justice in our world?


What call do you hear for our nation as a new administration takes over?

What Christian values must we focus on as a nation?


“Crazy Facts”


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights issued a depressing summary of a year in death in Syria. According to its tracking of the many casualties of the ongoing conflict, the civil war in Syria claimed 76,021 lives in 2014, although its researchers acknowledged that figure is likely a deep undercount of the true toll. Even the conservative figures makes 2014 the deadliest year in Syria since the violence began in 2011.


Do Police Departments reflect the communities they protect and serve?

“… many American police forces still struggle to look more like the communities they protect and serve. In hundreds of departments across the country, the percentage of whites on the force is over 30 percentage points higher than the percentage in their communities.”  Check out the data about the 75 largest police departments in our nation:


Actions – Links

The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Many cities and places in the US have ecumenical and interfaith services to remember Dr. King and his vision of and work for justice and peace in our nation and world. Participation in such events can help us renew are vision and commitment to social justice and us help with network with others who are seeking the same things. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research Institute at Stanford University “provides an institutional home for a broad range of activities illuminating the Nobel Peace laureate’s life and the movements he inspired.”  

Their site is at:

At the site you will find curriculum resources for teaching about Dr. King and even recordings of some of his speeches.  Info about Dr. King and efforts to keep his vision alive can be found at the web site of the King Center in Atlanta: 


Race in the United States

The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, Illinois, recently wrote a pastoral reflection on race called The Racial Divide in the United States: A Reflection for the World Day of Peace 2015.  It can be read at


Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Christians around the world celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity together from January 18 to 25, with the encouragement of the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. For more info go to:  


National Prayer Vigil for Life, Jan. 21-22, 2015

Info can be found at the web site of the Bishop’s Conference at: 


Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, guide us and our nation on the path to justice.

For all who are suffering from poverty, unemployment and homelessness, we pray….

For all our public officials that they may work together for the good of all, especially the poor, we pray…..

For help to all who are hurting because of the worldwide recession, we pray…..

For the people of Gaza, Israel, the West Bank, and all those caught up in the fighting in Palestine, that they may find a way to peace, we pray…..

For justice and peace in all the trouble parts of the world, we pray …..

For a healing of the racial divide and stereotypes which exist in our nation, we pray….

For continued efforts to make real in our day the nonviolent vision of justice and peace which was preached by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we pray….

For a deeper respect for human life from conception to natural death, we pray….

For a commitment to the health and care of our planet and its resources, we pray….

For a deeper and richer unity between all the Christian churches, that we may live more fully the radical loving visions of Jesus, we pray…..


Prayer & Meditation

Prayer for Martin Luther King’s Birthday

[Attributed to J-Glenn Murray, SJ]


O Guardian of Israel, our shelter and shade,

Stir up in us that flame of justice 

That Jesus incited on this earth,

That rages in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.

O arouse in us that very flame of righteousness

That enticed Martin to be a living sacrifice of praise,

To seek freedom for all God’s children.

O to you, God every faithful and true,

Be glory for ever and ever.



The Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia have made available a prayer service for the King Holiday.  It can be found at 

Other prayer resources can be found at: