Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 3:1-10.19-20; Mark 1:29-39)

On Sunday Mark’s gospel read that “the heavens were opened” when Jesus was baptized. The evangelist seems to imply that such an occurrence does not often happen. In the first reading today we hear again that such revelation is extraordinary. It says that in an even more ancient time, when we might have expected that God regularly spoke to humans in extraordinary ways, “a revelation from the Lord was uncommon and (a) vision infrequent.”

The narrative regarding the birth and call of Samuel begins the story of God’s bringing to fruition His promise of making Israel a great nation. Samuel will eventually anoint both Saul and David kings of the tiny land. The former shows some hope but will prove himself lacking in trust. David is a fierce warrior and capable administrator, yet he also fails to exhibit the virtue requisite of a great people. He keeps a harem, commits adultery, and even murders a noble officer. The kingdom he establishes will not last two generations before it splits in two.

We might compare the origins of the kingdom of Israel as related in the Book of Samuel to those of the kingdom of God told by the evangelists. Of course, Jesus figures prominently in the latter. Even more descriptively than the Old Testament writers tell of Samuel’s birth, Matthew and Luke weave the story of Jesus’ beginnings. They show him as one so completely dominated by virtue that he is rightly called “son of God.” In today’s gospel Mark indicates the consistency of Jesus’ dedication to the kingdom of his Father. He tirelessly cures disease, casts out demons, and preaches good news to all people. In showing himself to be the fulfillment of God’s promise, Jesus provides for us a place in the new Israel through our relationship with him.