Second Sunday of ordinary time

Two disciples ask Jesus, “Where are you staying?” It is followed by an invitation, “Come, and you will see.” Open your eyes and respond! In today’s first reading, a number of verses are omitted. Why? The reading omits the warning that Eli’s house will fall because his sons, who are priests, were corrupt and nothing done to stop them. Hearing God’s message, Samuel overcomes his fear of telling his caretaker and benefactor that he must find his prophetic voice.

How can our silent religious leaders find their prophetic voices? Leaving a difficult passage out is tantamount to being unwilling to challenge the status quo and following Jesus without substance. We are all called to speak out even when it is uncomfortable. Especially when it is uncomfortable. It might require us to read parts of the story of occupation in Australia and Palestine. It might require us to read parts of the story how First Nations people have resisted injustice and not being labelled as innately violent. Our call can be a threat to the old narrative that Israel is always the victim, and attempts are made to silence prophetic voices as seen in the many deaths of courageous journalists in Palestine as well as places such as Ukraine, Russia, and Africa. We are all called to speak up for justice which may require speaking difficult truths to people who are close to us.


Society won’t change unless we speak out and act out and live into God’s potential for us - even when we are scared. Peace with justice is not possible if we do not model it in our relationships. In a world where there is much hatred, division and falsehoods, we are called to give witness to love, human dignity and truth-telling. Discipleship is not something we choose once and for all. It is the living out of its demands that we commit ourselves to without wavering. Human history is filled with the painful cry to God to come, act and save. But we know from Jewish literature, ‘Every tear brings the Messiah closer!’ Every injustice and every kind of suffering, should make us more ready to respond in love and ready to let go of some of our separateness.


‘Where is Jesus calling us to come and see? Invasion and genocide in Gaza and the West Bank, lies and propaganda in the media that create tensions with Iran and China, floods and fires in Australia, a lack of civility from and corruption in the highest places. Our values bring life and death to the planet. We cannot allow messages of doom to disempower us. We cannot let fears of being called anti-Semitic silence us. We cannot wait for institutional waywardness and personal insecurity and imperfection disqualify us from making a difference. We cannot allow business or politics stunt our vision of divine possibility and that we have a role in ushering forth a new earth. We must remember, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for’ (Clara Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run with the Wolves)


We are temples of the Holy Spirit. When Paul says, ‘Use your body for the glory of God,’ he is referring not to ‘sins of the flesh’ but to our whole ‘embodied existence’, our way of being in the world, our network of relationships, our culture of care so that other flourish.


So when Jesus is asked ‘where do you live?’ or we ask where is he to be encountered today, we can find that it not where we can feel comfortable. We must not let the narrow interpretations of others limit our response to him and to our sisters and brothers. We are being asked to listen for God’s call in the voices crying out for justice in both our streets and the streets of Gaza, the West Bank


Let us look to people who call attention to God's voice and presence. Jesus was clear. We meet him in his people: “Whatever you did for one of these, the least of my sisters and brothers, you did for me.” Pope Francis is one voice when he calls us to hold up the poor, the migrant, the victims of war and violence, by listening to the indigenous people of the Amazon, the Congo, and elsewhere, by teaching us what it means to live as sisters and brothers and by caring for our common home, Francis helps us to find our own prophetic voice, and to follow Christ in advocating for peace, justice, and care for Creation. God has whispered in the ears of a child, as does so in people who believe change is necessary. God has always seems to speak through the most unlikely or seemingly insignificant people whom the powerful and influential tend to dismiss. Ahed al Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager is known for her resistance to Israel’s military occupation of her land, and whilst in prison studied international law in the hope of taking Israel to international courts. Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, after being shot, received the Nobel Peace Prize, and the World’s Children's Prize for courageously fighting for the right of girls to have an education. To be a follower we need to listen  to the ‘whispers’ of God that come in the events of life and the stories of people – especially those on the edges, the poor, marginalised, oppressed. It means we need to remain close to those on the peripheries and their reality and experience.


Whatever we do, God is always facing toward us. There is hope for transformation in the worst situations and most despicable people. God invites us to be part of new future that involves turning towards one another rather than against each other in hate and fear. As we watch the genocide unfolding in Gaza, it is jarring to see people we know well become cheerleaders for ethnic cleansing. Though appearing thoughtful and kind they can justify the bombing of mosques, churches, schools, and hospitals in Gaza.


Samuel was born into a corrupt climate as many of us do. Those who manage the status quo want to reassure us they have everything in hand. Their words of peace and prosperity are disconnected from the reality of many people. Complicity in injustice and corruption is hidden by lies whether in Gaza, Iraq, China, Afghanistan, climate change, treatment of First Nations people, treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, prejudice against LGBTIQA+ people, and blaming the poor and unemployed for their conditions.


Paul reminds us that God’s Spirit of love is in our midst – within our lives, relationships, struggles to reconcile and heal, our failures, our attempts in justice and peace making and loving. Paul says that we, our bodies, are God’s chosen dwelling places. God approaches us through our bodies and relationships. And so, disregard for the body’s sacredness results in violence, sexual slavery of children, physical and mental abuse, commercial greed and economic injustice. Coming near to Jesus, we see that he shines a light on our prejudices against others and scapegoating. Jesus invites us to ‘come and see.’ Have your eyes opened.


And to have our eyes opened is also to see that despite the dark places that many people live in, there are many who continue to turn towards each other rather than against each other. We still experience multiple massacres of the innocents. Innocent children are still being killed in places like Palestine and Ukraine. Howard Zinn says that in this awful world where the efforts of caring people often pale in comparison to what is done by those who have power, we should not give up the game before all the cards have been played. The metaphor is deliberate; life is a gamble. Not to play is to foreclose any chance of winning. To play, to act, is to create at least a possibility of changing the world. We can tend to think that what we see in the present moment will continue, but forget how often institutions have come crumbling down and systems of power that seemed invincible have collapsed. This catalogue of surprises should make clear that the struggle for justice should never be abandoned because of the apparent overwhelming power – an apparent that has proved vulnerable to human qualities such moral fervour, determination, unity, organization, sacrifice, wit, ingenuity, courage, patience. No cold calculation of the balance of power need deter people who are persuaded that their cause is just. In spite of all the evidence of terrible things happening everywhere we encounter people, especially the young, who listen, respond with care and thus give hope. Change does not come at once but as an endless succession of surprises towards a more just society. To participate in this process of change, we do not have to engage in grand, heroic actions. Small unhistoric acts, can transform the world. To be hopeful in bad times is based on the fact that human history is not only one of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. Seeing only the worst destroys our capacity to act. The energy to act derives from remembering that there are many times and place where people have behaved to change things in a different direction. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvellous victory. (Howard Zinn ‘The Optimism of Uncertainty’, 2004


In a recent article Aurobindo Ghose writes, While we are enveloped by the dark clouds of war, hatred, hegemony, religious polarisation, and capitalist greed, we also realize that every cloud has a silver lining. The human spirit and human conscience is still alive and kicking. Protest against genocidal war, resistance to repression and oppression and the voices of peace, sanity, reason and humanity are vocal, visible and audible world-wide as well as in this large and diverse land of ours.

So let us move forward ……with a hope and the resolve to unitedly struggle for a better world of love, harmony, peace, friendship, and equality’ (Aurobindo Ghose, ‘Let’s Hope for a Better 2024’


A culture of care as a path to peace




Donate Sign up Newsroom