1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19, - 1 Cor. 6:13-15, 17-20, - John 1:35-42
Yes! Today’s liturgy introduces us to the beginning of 2018 ordinary time. The Old Testament reading, taken from 1 Samuel, spotlights the focus of this Sunday’s liturgy: God’s call. We meet young Samuel asleep in the temple, and with him is the temple priest, Eli. While Samuel is sleeping, he hears God’s voice calling him three times. Each time he approaches Eli to ask if he’s the one calling him, and Eli consistently says, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.” Finally, God calls Samuel one more time. Eli then understands what the Lord is doing, and tells Samuel to reply: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” The youth does as he’s instructed, and is filled with grace; he grows-up in a deep relationship with God. He’s groomed to be God’s chosen instrument and is prepared to do God’s work.
Still, in another Scripture passage, one taken from the gospel of John, we are put in touch with God’s call. The calling comes in a new place and different circumstances. Here, we find Jesus, the Son of God, in action! During one “ordinary” afternoon Jesus calls three men to join him in ministry. They are engaged in their daily mundane activities – walking and fishing. John the Baptist initiates an encounter with Jesus, by telling two of his disciples that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is passing by. When Andrew and James react and follow Jesus, he asks them, “What are you looking for?” The two disciples respond to him and say - “Rabbi” - meaning “Teacher.” Jesus then solidifies their calling by inviting them to, “Come and see.” After this, Andrew then goes to his brother Simon, and shares the good news: “We have found the Messiah!” Jesus looks at him, and names him Peter! In a moment, Simon is profoundly changed!
Indeed, down through the centuries, God’s ways of calling have been repeated continually. How can we, the men and women of the 21st century, hear God’s voice, through all the noise and chaos around us? How often, do we - like Samuel - sense God’s spirit, during different periods of contemplative prayer? How can men and women of the modern world “listen” and discern God’s will as Samuel did? A deep relationship with God and discernment requires one to cultivate prayer, meditation, and periods of contemplation.
Another way to perceive God’s call is to honestly consider the same question we found in the today’s gospel. Jesus may be asking you, as he did to Andrew and James: “What are you looking for?” How open are you then, to get into deep conversation with the Son of God, and be prepared to answer? Are your eyes open to recognize Jesus in another person, and ready to answer, “yes” when being called to serve?
Indeed, the Christian journey is to “listen” and “do” whatever God may call us to, during both the “extraordinary” and “ordinary” seasons of our lives. Right now, let’s make a New Year’s resolution to sensitize and sharpen our “eyes and ears,” so we can see and hear God’s call!
Sister Shirley Jeffcott, O.P.