John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”
Prayer for Holiness
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.
Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.
Guard me so, O Holy Spirit,
that I may always be holy.
Almighty ever-living God,
who govern all things,
both in heaven and on earth,
mercifully hear the pleading of your people
and bestow your peace on our times.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
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.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 2578 The prayer of the People of God flourishes in the shadow of God’s dwelling place, first the ark of the covenant and later the Temple. At first the leaders of the people – the shepherds and the prophets – teach them to pray. The infant Samuel must have learned from his mother Hannah how “to stand before the LORD” and from the priest Eli how to listen to his word: “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”1 Later, he will also know the cost and consequence of intercession: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.”2
1 1 Sam 3:9-10; cf. 1:9-18.
2 1 Sam 12:23.
God’s ways are surely wonderful! He could govern and regulate this world and all its inhabitants most correctly and successfully all by himself. However, he has decided to give man a chance of co-operating with him in the running of the material and spiritual affairs of his world. Perhaps they are more often a hindrance rather than a help to the Lord. Yet, he not only allows them but he calls them, selects them for various roles in the government of his world.
This is true in the running of the temporal affairs as well as the government of the spiritual life of men on earth. The exercise of power over a nation or community of people is not from man but from God, hence the obligation on subjects to obey the just laws of their rulers. God it is who delegates his authority to earthly rulers.
During the first eight hundred years of God’s dealings with his Chosen People, both the temporal and spiritual leadership of the people always resided in one and the same individual. The Patriarchs, Moses, Joshua, the Judges down to the appointment of kings (1030 B.C.), were individually called by God to administer both the temporal and spiritual affairs of the community. Today’s lesson tells us how Samuel got his call to fulfill this double task of temporal and spiritual leadership of God’s people. Because God was with him in all his doings he carried it out very successfully for about twenty years.
All men have a vocation, a call from God in this life. Each individual has duties to perform which, if faithfully carried out, will earn for him the place God has planned for him in the eternal kingdom. A few are called to be the leaders of their fellowman. The vast majority are called to follow the leaders by loyally obeying the laws enacted for their just government. Each one of us has a call from God, a part to play in the temporal and spiritual affairs of this life. The future status of each one of us will be determined by the manner in which we carried out our role on earth.
Samuel had not the faintest idea that it was God Who was speaking to him when he first got his call, his vocation, in the shrine at Shiloh. But when he eventually realized the truth he immediately offered his humble service to the Lord, “thy servant hears.” How few of us have seen a call from God, a divine vocation, in the humdrum activities of our daily lives, and yet these ordinary daily tasks are the road to heaven that God has mapped out for us. These are the “vocations” he has given us. We may say that we ourselves chose our careers in life, we decided what occupation we should follow, but behind our free decisions the wise providence of God, working through parents, neighbors, circumstances of time and place, has so arranged our earthly journey that it would end for us in heaven. Many grumble at their role in life. They think their lot is so inferior and demanding when compared with the life others lead, and even go so far as to say that God could have no part in such a bad arrangement. Yet, God is in charge of his world. He chooses each individual for the role he is to carry to its successful conclusion.
“There is a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will,” Shakespeare, the wise Christian tells us. God has a master plan for the human race; to each one of us he has given a little niche in that plan. If we play the part he has given us, let it be noble or humble in the eyes of this world, we shall make a success of God’s master-plan, of this great human drama. Our own eternal success will be assured. With Samuel today, let us accept our vocation and humbly submit ourselves to his divine will: “speak Lord for thy servant hears.”
Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10
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.
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.”
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!”
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.
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
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.
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.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 364 The human body shares in the dignity of “the image of God”: it is a human body precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul, and it is the whole human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a temple of the Spirit:1
Man, though made of body and soul, is a unity. Through his very bodily condition he sums up in himself the elements of the material world. Through him they are thus brought to their highest perfection and can raise their voice in praise freely given to the Creator. For this reason man may not despise his bodily life. Rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and to hold it in honor since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. 2
CCC 796 The unity of Christ and the Church, head and members of one Body, also implies the distinction of the two within a personal relationship. This aspect is often expressed by the image of bridegroom and bride. The theme of Christ as Bridegroom of the Church was prepared for by the prophets and announced by John the Baptist.3 The Lord referred to himself as the “bridegroom.”4 The Apostle speaks of the whole Church and of each of the faithful, members of his Body, as a bride “betrothed” to Christ the Lord so as to become but one spirit with him.5 The Church is the spotless bride of the spotless Lamb.6 “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her.”7 He has joined her with himself in an everlasting covenant and never stops caring for her as for his own body:8
This is the whole Christ, head and body, one formed from many. .. whether the head or members speak, it is Christ who speaks. He speaks in his role as the head (ex persona capitis) and in his role as body (ex persona corporis). What does this mean? “The two will become one flesh. This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the Church.”9 And the Lord himself says in the Gospel: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”10 They are, in fact, two different persons, yet they are one in the conjugal union,. .. as head, he calls himself the bridegroom, as body, he calls himself “bride.”11
CCC 989 We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives for ever, so after death the righteous will live for ever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day.12 Our resurrection, like his own, will be the work of the Most Holy Trinity:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.13
CCC 1004 In expectation of that day, the believer’s body and soul already participate in the dignity of belonging to Christ. This dignity entails the demand that he should treat with respect his own body, but also the body of every other person, especially the suffering:
The body [is meant] for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?. .. You are not your own;. .. So glorify God in your body.14
CCC 1265 Baptism not only purifies from all sins, but also makes the neophyte “a new creature,” an adopted son of God, who has become a “partaker of the divine nature,”15 member of Christ and co-heir with him,16 and a temple of the Holy Spirit.17
CCC 1269 Having become a member of the Church, the person baptized belongs no longer to himself, but to him who died and rose for us.18 From now on, he is called to be subject to others, to serve them in the communion of the Church, and to “obey and submit” to the Church’s leaders,19 holding them in respect and affection.20 Just as Baptism is the source of responsibilities and duties, the baptized person also enjoys rights within the Church: to receive the sacraments, to be nourished with the Word of God and to be sustained by the other spiritual helps of the Church.21
CCC 1695 “Justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God,”22 “sanctified. .. [and] called to be saints,”23 Christians have become the temple of the Holy Spirit.24 This “Spirit of the Son” teaches them to pray to the Father25 and, having become their life, prompts them to act so as to bear “the fruit of the Spirit”26 by charity in action. Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.27 He enlightens and strengthens us to live as “children of light” through “all that is good and right and true.”28
CCC 2355 Prostitution does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it, reducing the person to an instrument of sexual pleasure. The one who pays sins gravely against himself: he violates the chastity to which his Baptism pledged him and defiles his body, the temple of the Holy Spirit.29 Prostitution is a social scourge. It usually involves women, but also men, children, and adolescents (The latter two cases involve the added sin of scandal.). While it is always gravely sinful to engage in prostitution, the imputability of the offense can be attenuated by destitution, blackmail, or social pressure.
1 Cf. I Cor 6:19-20; 15:44-45.
2 GS 14 # 1; cf. Dan 3:57-80.
3 Jn 3:29.
4 Mk 2:19.
5 Cf. Mt 22:1-14; 25:1-13; 1 Cor 6:15-17; 2 Cor 11:2.
6 Cf. Rev 22:17; Eph 1:4. 5:27.
7 Eph 5:25-26.
8 Cf. Eph 5:29.
9 Eph 5:31-32.
10 Mt 19:6.
11 St. Augustine, En. in Ps. 74:4: PL 36, 948-949.
12 Cf. Jn 6:39-40.
13 Rom 8:11; cf. 1 Thess 4:14; 1 Cor 6:14; 2 Cor 4:14; Phil 3:10-11.
14 1 Cor 6:13-15,19-20.
15 2 Cor 5:17; 2 Pet 1:4; cf. Gal 4:5-7.
16 Cf. l Cor 6:15; 12:27; Rom 8:17.
17 Cf. l Cor 6:19.
18 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19; 2 Cor 5:15.
19 Heb 13:17.
20 Cf. Eph 5:21; 1 Cor 16:15-16; 1 Thess 5:12-13; Jn 13:12-15.
21 Cf. LG 37; CIC, cann. 208 223; CCEO, can. 675:2.
22 2 Cor 6:11.
23 1 Cor 1:2.
24 Cf. 1 Cor 6:19.
25 Cf. Gal 4:6.
26 Gal 5:22, 25.
27 Cf. Eph 4:23.
28 Eph 5:8, 9.
29 Cf. 1 Cor 6:15-20.
St. Paul wrote these words almost two thousand years ago. Ninety per cent of the world’s population was still pagan, knowing nothing of the true God or of his divine plans for them. The only practical philosophy they could and did follow was the enjoyment of every comfort and pleasure. They believed that when they died all was ended forever. St. Paul’s converts in Corinth were living in the midst of pagans who practiced this philosophy. This made Christian living very difficult for some of them. They fell back into the immoral practices in which they had indulged before their conversion.
The Apostle, hearing of this, condemned their conduct in clear and forceful language. “Shun immorality”; “the body is not meant for immorality,” he tells them. He then gives the reason why the use of sex, outside of marriage, is not only a sin but a sacrilege. In baptism the Christian has given his body to Christ. He has become a member of Christ, and therefore, such a body cannot be given to anyone but to a lawful spouse. To join the Christian body to a prostitute in fornication therefore, was a desecration of the sacred, a direct denial of the bond which bound the Christian to Christ. Furthermore, he reminds these immoral converts of a truth he had already told them, namely, that ever since their baptism the Holy Spirit dwelt within them—they were temples of God. They belonged in a very special way to God, for, through Christ, he had brought them out of slavery to be his own heirs for all eternity.
This teaching of St. Paul is, if anything, more necessary today than it was at that time in Corinth. The weak converts of Corinth had the bad example of their local pagan neighbors to contend with. They also had the good example of the majority of their fellow-converts to uplift and encourage them. Today we have to contend, not only with the bad example of local pagan or rather neo-pagan neighbors, but the full force of the world’s immorality is blazoned daily before our eyes by the mass-media of television, papers, and scandal-mongering writers.
The campaign for absolute freedom for the individual, the demands of the permissive society, are being daily shouted from the house-tops with such insistence and constancy, that even devout Christians cannot entirely avoid their impact. Sex, or rather the abuse of it, has become the battle-cry of youth. Indeed, it has been raised to the status of a god whose every whim must be obeyed and satisfied. Pornography today has become a billion-dollar industry. As long as there is a demand for it suppliers will not be found wanting. If this sexual extravagance was the invention of the communist countries as a means of reducing the rest of the world to impotency, the democracies of the West would be immediately up in arms. But as it is their own brain-child, they have no word of condemnation for it. If they do not openly encourage it, they at least permit this social cancer to grow and propagate itself. They do not realize or perhaps do not care, that it will eventually corrupt their nations and make social life, and even human existence impossible.
But we Christians can and must stand up and oppose with every means in our power, this pagan immorality. Our bodies are members of Christ’s sacred body. We must not desecrate them by indulging in sexual aberrations. We are temples of the Holy Spirit; sin must have no place within us. Parents of families: instruct your children by word and example. Protect them, as far as you can, from this immoral cancer which is being encouraged and developed all around you. Under the guise of liberty our permissive society is demanding more and more license to violate, not only the sacred laws of God himself, but the very nature of humanity. Human intelligence and reason are thrown overboard in the search for sexual pleasure, and man who was made “a little less than the angels” is now debased to the level of the beast of the field.
Listen to St. Paul’s advice: “The body is not meant for immorality–it is meant to glorify God.”
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.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH (CCC)
CCC 608 After agreeing to baptize him along with the sinners, John the Baptist looked at Jesus and pointed him out as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”.1 By doing so, he reveals that Jesus is at the same time the suffering Servant who silently allows himself to be led to the slaughter and who bears the sin of the multitudes, and also the Paschal Lamb, the symbol of Israel’s redemption at the first Passover.2 Christ’s whole life expresses his mission: “to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”3
CCC 719 John the Baptist is “more than a prophet.”4 In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah.5 He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the “voice” of the Consoler who is coming.6 As the Spirit of truth will also do, John “came to bear witness to the light.”7 In John’s sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels.8 “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God. .. Behold, the Lamb of God.”9
1 Jn 1:29; cf. Lk 3:21; Mt 3:14-15; Jn 1:36.
2 Is 53:7,12; cf. Jer 11:19; Ex 12:3-14; Jn 19:36; 1 Cor 5:7.
3 Mk 10:45.
4 Lk 7:26.
5 Cf. Mt 11:13-14.
6 Jn 1:23; cf. Isa 40:1-3.
7 Jn 1:7; cf. Jn 15:26; 5:35.
8 Cf. 1 Pet 1:10-12.
9 Jn 1:33-36.
In the eight short verses read to us today from St. John’s gospel we have an account of the vocation of the first four Apostles who followed Jesus. It was a momentous event in the history of salvation. It was the beginning of a stream of vocations that would grow and spread down through the ages until the end of the world. It was momentous, firstly, in that Christ, who had come to open heaven for all men and who could find means of bringing them all to that eternal home without help from any man, decided instead to let men co-operate with him in this divine task. He decreed to set up a kingdom in this world – his Church – which would be run by mere mortals for their fellow-mortals, but which would be under his protection and assisted by his divine aid until the end of time. Christ chose this very human way, in order to make his Church more acceptable to our limited, human understanding and more approachable for sinful, human nature.
Christ, as God, could deal directly with every human being on earth. He could teach the infallible truth; he could pardon sins; he could give all the graces needed to travel successfully to heaven. There would then be no need for a Church with its teaching magisterium, no need for the sacrament of initiation, baptism, or of reconciliation, penance, nor of the Holy Eucharist itself or of any other such aids. Christ could do all that his Church does for the salvation of mankind, and more successfully, of course, but yet he chose the way which divine wisdom saw was best.
We mortals know that God can speak directly to our hearts, and actually has done so to many men in the past. We know that he can do directly all that is done by his Church, to whom he gave the power, with its teaching magisterium and sacraments. If he were to act in this way we should be open to continuous doubts about the source of our inspirations and the objectivity of the graces we thought we were receiving. It was to remove such doubts, and the possibility of self-deception that Christ left to us the external visible kingdom to which he gave all the powers necessary for men’s salvation. It was for the security and peace of men’s consciences that he set up a visible Church founded on the Apostles, men like ourselves, but transformed by his assisting grace.
Another momentous fact in Christ’s choice of the Apostles on whom he was to build his Church, is that he “chose the lowly and the humble to confound the wise.” The first four Apostles, as well as the other eight, were simple, lowly fishermen from Galilee. They may possibly have been able to read and write a little, but they were certainly not men of education or any social standing in their communities. He could have converted and chosen some of the more highly educated scribes of Jerusalem, or some of the Roman centurions then in Palestine, or some of the many philosophers in Greece, or even Roman senators whose influence as Christian teachers would carry such weight with the educated elite of the empire. But he did not. The instrument he chose to carry his message to all men, was not dependent on human ingenuity or on the educational or social standing of his witnesses. Rather was it to stand on the power of God, of which it was the expression and proof.
We can see clearly the divine wisdom governing Christ’s choice of Apostles! Had his message of salvation been spread and promulgated by men of learning and social standing, the cry would soon go up on all sides: “This religion is the invention of philosophers; it is a clever plan of the upper classes to keep the poor and humble workers in subjection.” But it was the poor and working classes who spread Christ’s message, and who suffered imprisonment and death itself at the hands of the educated and upper classes for so doing.
Today, let us thank our blessed Lord who provided so humanly and yet so divinely for our eternal welfare. In the Church, which he founded on the lowly but solid foundation of simple fishermen of Galilee, he erected an institution against which the gates of hell, the power of all the enemies of our salvation, cannot prevail, for his divine guidance and help will be with it forever. It has had enemies and opposition from the beginning; they may be more numerous and more destructive than ever, today. But the promise of Christ still holds good, his word cannot fail. Therefore, neither the opposition of materialistic enemies from without, nor the even more insidious attacks from faint-hearted and worldly-minded members from within, can affect the safety and permanence of the building which Christ built on the Rock. “If God is with us,” it matters not “who is against us.”
Applications written by Fr. Kevin O’Sullivan O.F.M. and used with permission from Franciscan Press.
The Process of Spiritual Growth
It is important for the process of spiritual growth that you don’t just pray and study your faith at times when it happens to cross your mind, when it suits you, but that you observe some discipline… I should say, never begin with thinking alone. For if you try to pull God toward you in a laboratory of rational thought, and to attach Him to you in what is to some extent a purely theoretical fashion, you find you can’t do it. You always have to combine the questions with action. Pascal once said to an unbelieving friend: Start by doing what believers do, even if it still makes no sense to you… You can never look for faith in isolation; it is only found in an encounter with people who believe, who can understand you, who have perhaps come by way of a similar situation themselves, who can in some way lead you and help you. It is always among us that faith grows. Anyone who wants to go it alone has thus got it wrong from the very start.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Come Holy Spirit
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.