Homilette for January 16, 2007

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 3:1-10; 19-20, Mark 1:29-39)

The other day on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Matthew’s gospel read that “the heavens were opened” for Jesus. The connotation is that such an occurrence did not often happen. In the first reading today we hear again that revelation is extraordinary. The First Book of Samuel relates that “a revelation from the Lord was uncommon and (a) vision infrequent.” If we wonder why God does not speak to us directly in contemporary times, we can console ourselves that people in biblical times probably asked the same question.

The narrative regarding Samuel and Eli begins the story of God’s plan to bring greatness to the people of Israel. Samuel will eventually anoint both Saul and David king. The latter will extend Israel’s fortunes to great heights. But David in all his glory will fail the Lord. He will keep a harem of women, commit adultery, and conspire to kill a noble soldier. The greatness of the kingdom of Israel will eventually dissolve through repeated abandonment of God’s ways.

We might compare the care taken to relate the origins of the kingdom of Israel to those of the evangelists telling of the coming of the kingdom of God. Of course, Jesus figures prominently in the latter story. Matthew and Luke weave the story of Jesus’ birth. They present him as the one who will establish the kingdom of God with such unsurpassable greatness that it will never end. In today’s gospel Mark indicates the makeup of Jesus’ accomplishment. Jesus cures disease and casts out demons – the effects of sin -- and also preaches the good news to all people. Jesus is showing himself is the fulfillment of God’s plan for Israel as well as of our deepest desires.