Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 14, 2024

January 14, 2024


January 14, 2024

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time





I love these Biblical narratives like the ones we heard today in Samuel and the Gospel of John where God calls everyday normal people by name. These unassuming characters respond to God’s call and suddenly their lives are never the same. As Christians, these stories are cornerstones in our tradition. We have built systems around these narratives, these experiences, and these perspectives.

Take a moment to imagine: Samuel as a young boy in conversation with God; imagine Peter called by Jesus to be Cephas - the rock on which we have built our Church. Imagine the awe and the joy and maybe the fear in these encounters. What a gift. One of the gifts Ignatian spirituality has offered me is the opportunity to go deep into prayer as I imagine myself in these scenes. As I prayed over these passages my curiosity led me to ask - What else? What else happened?

Biblical scholars and historians are making fascinating and important discoveries related to other perspectives that deepen our understanding of John’s Gospel and Mary Magdalene. In Diana Butler Bass’s sermon entitled “All the Marys,” she shows us that the story we all heard growing up of Mary being from the town of Magdala, may be incorrect because the town of Magdala did not exist in the first century. Research by biblical scholar, Elizabeth Schrader, and others suggests that Magdala could have been a title for Mary - like Rock was a title for Peter. In Aramaic, Magdala means tower. Mary, the Tower of our Faith. Mary, the symbol of our faith. Mary, the embodiment of our faith. What if this Sunday we read about Peter the Rock, but next Sunday we read about Mary the Tower? How might the systems and structures of our church have been different if that narrative, Jesus calling and naming a woman - what if that had been the story of the foundation of our church for the past 2000 years? These scholars and historians are using their prophetic voices to unearth a different and untold story.

And with Samuel’s story, don’t you want to know what God said to him? That part’s not included in the lectionary, but it’s in there. My friend and mentor is an Episcopal priest. She always recommends reading the sections that are omitted from the lectionary when preparing a sermon. And so I did. The eight verses that are omitted from Samuel tell us juicy details - God tells Samuel that the house of Eli will be punished and destroyed because Eli’s sons, who are priests, have offended God and Eli did not stop them. Samuel is scared to death to convey this message to Eli who has been his caretaker and benefactor. Samuel hears God’s message, he moves through his fear and tells Eli. He finds his prophetic voice and speaks the truth even though it is very uncomfortable. God sees the full potential of Samuel and Peter and Mary - and God names that potential. God always sees our full potential. But living into our full-God-given potential can be perceived as a threat to some. Jesus was crucified when his full potential threatened the Roman Empire. Mary Magdalene's story threatens the patriarchy and so it has been omitted.

Each of us is called by God. The call may not be as dramatic as the stories we heard today, but we are all called to live into our full selves. Sometimes, like Samuel, the call is difficult to hear at first. Sometimes our call does not fit within the confines of the systems that humans have created. On the eve of the commemoration of the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we remember someone whose call, like Samuel’s forced him to articulate difficult truths. And we know that his call was a threat to white supremacy and in an attempt to silence his prophetic voice, he was assassinated.

Like Dr. King, we are all called to speak up for justice and for antiracism. Like Samuel, that may require relaying difficult truths to people close to us. The psalmist sings of God putting a new song in our mouths, “to announce God’s justice in the vast assembly.” We must “not restrain our lips.” We are all called to speak out even when it is uncomfortable. Especially when it is uncomfortable. Afterall, that’s what Jesus did time and time again.

Racism prevents all of us from living into our fullness and living out our call. As a white woman in the US, my frame of reference for racism is only as broad as my lived experience and the stories I have heard. And often those stories are incomplete or have only been told from only one perspective. Speaking out against racism means reading parts of the story that have been omitted from the required reading. It means taking the time to unpack within ourselves how we are functioning within racist systems.

Antiracism is a spiritual practice. It requires us to practice listening for God; it requires us to practice listening to others; to practice using our prophetic voice; to try again when we’ve messed up; to be curious and willing to be transformed; to ask what else happened; to sit in the discomfort; to practice having difficult conversations; to discern our call and determine what work is ours to do. Samuel did not hear God at first, because he did not yet know God. We may not hear things or see things at first that we are not familiar with, but we have to practice listening, hearing, and seeing. Society won’t change unless we speak out and act out and live into God’s potential for us - even when we are scared.

Let us all be ready to receive God’s call for justice - “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

First Reading


Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

Second Reading

1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20


Jn 1:35-42
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Laura Boysen-Aragón

Laura Boysen-Aragón

Laura Boysen-Aragón (she/her) is the Development Director at the Loyola Institute for Spirituality (LIS) in Orange, CA where she brings to her work a deep commitment to Ignatian spirituality and a faith that seeks justice. Laura is passionate about the intersection of spirituality and antiracism, and she is active in antiracism education and advocacy. She holds an M.A. in Theology from Loyola Marymount University, a J.D. from Columbia Law School, and a B.A. in English from Gonzaga University. Laura’s career began in politics as the policy assistant for the Governor of California. She then practiced law for several years. As an attorney, Laura’s clients ranged from incarcerated individuals to asylum-seekers and large corporations. Before joining LIS, Laura worked as a legal recruiter. Laura has felt a strong call to the priesthood for many years. She continues discerning how to live out that call. Laura and her spouse have two wonderful children. Together they enjoy laughing, music, travel, and cooking.


Boysen-Aragon, Laura (2023) "Lonergan’s Concept of Conversion: A Path to Antiracism," Say Something Theological: The Student Journal of Theological Studies: Vol. 6: Iss. 1, Article 5.Available at:



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