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Building Our Faith

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:1-8

There was a certain man from Ramathaim, Elkanah by name,
a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim.
He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu,
son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
He had two wives, one named Hannah, the other Peninnah;
Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.
This man regularly went on pilgrimage from his city
to worship the LORD of hosts and to sacrifice to him at Shiloh,
where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas,
were ministering as priests of the LORD.
When the day came for Elkanah to offer sacrifice,
he used to give a portion each to his wife Peninnah
and to all her sons and daughters,
but a double portion to Hannah because he loved her,
though the LORD had made her barren.
Her rival, to upset her, turned it into a constant reproach to her
that the LORD had left her barren.
This went on year after year;
each time they made their pilgrimage to the sanctuary of the LORD,
Peninnah would approach her,
and Hannah would weep and refuse to eat.
Her husband Elkanah used to ask her:
“Hannah, why do you weep, and why do you refuse to eat?
Why do you grieve?
Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116:12-13, 14-17, 18-19

R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
O LORD, I am your servant;
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people,
In the courts of the house of the LORD,
in your midst, O Jerusalem.
R. To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise.

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

After John had been arrested,
Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God:
“This is the time of fulfillment.
The Kingdom of God is at hand.
Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee,
he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea;
they were fishermen.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along a little farther
and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They too were in a boat mending their nets.
Then he called them.
So they left their father Zebedee in the boat
along with the hired men and followed him.

NAB

JAN 11

When I was in fifth grade, I saw the movie Jesus of Nazareth for the first time. This particular Gospel scene left a big impression. Always before, when I’d heard about Jesus calling his apostles, it sounded easy and unremarkable. Of course you would leave your nets and come when Jesus called you! It’s Jesus, after all!

But thanks to the film, I felt as if I were there, seeing the events happen for the first time. There was no comfortable hindsight, no assurance that this choice would be the right one. There were only some fishermen, who had no idea how the story would end, throwing their lot in with a charismatic man whose words somehow struck a chord deep inside them.

Their faith astonished me, and it still does.

I’m rather glad I wasn’t one of the Apostles, having to recognize Jesus and decide to embrace the uncertainty of following Him. But in reality, the Apostles’ choice is one that we all face multiple times each day. We all have to recognize Jesus and make the choice to follow where He invites us to go, and I’ve found that it is anything but easy.

Sometimes Jesus is there in the person who really needs a listening ear, the person to whom I give only cursory  attention because I have a schedule to keep. Sometimes Jesus is there in the work colleague who is causing me endless frustration, but I am too locked into my own way of seeing things to understand her perspective. Often Jesus is in  that little nudging voice that tells me to change some habit of mine, but I’m too caught up in my own nets to respond. What Jesus may be asking me to do is too hard, too risky. In those moments, it’s easier not to recognize him.

But if Jesus wants our greatest joy—and we know He does—then responding to His call is ultimately how we will find it. That response takes effort, and often takes a lot of courage. But it also takes us on a journey that, in the end, is always worth the risk.

What is one place where you recognized Jesus today? Did you follow Him?

photo by Sara Miller

Ginny Kubitz Moyer is a mother, high school English teacher, and BBC period drama junkie. She is the author of Random MOMents of Grace: Experiencing God in the Adventures of Motherhood and Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. Ginny lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two boys, and about thirty thousand Legos.  You can find out more about her here

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