In these early weeks of the calendar year and ordinary time it appears that we are being called to reflect on some of the basic elements of our faith — the elements that make up the foundation of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Last week, as we focused on the Baptism of Jesus, we learned about the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, particularly as they come through baptism. By following the example of Jesus our Baptism becomes a gateway where we are joined to and share in his life death and resurrection. That point is re-emphasized once again in the second reading from 1 Corinthian’s as we are told that we are joined — body, mind, and soul — to Jesus through this sacrament. By responding to that call our lives become a temple where he dwells. So our readings this weekend create a bridge between baptism and the varied forms of God’s call to us.
You may recall that Samuel was given to the high priest Eli out of his mother Hannah’s gratitude for God answering her prayer to be able to have a child. Eli is the high priest so Samuel has been immersed in a relationship with God and Holy ways of living since the earliest years of his life. In regard to God’s call, this story of Samuel tells us that we may not be able to discern for ourselves when God is speaking to us. It further tells us that even somebody seasoned and attuned to the voice of God may not always be able to understand when God is reaching out. While the call of God is personal and intimate it may require the assistance of the community in discerning and understanding that call. I know that for me, in regards to discerning my call to the permanent diaconate, it was the community that helped me to understand where I was being led and where God needed me to serve. This is why our connection to community and to others with a properly formed consciences is so vitally important to our growth and our call to service in Christ.
The Gospel of John tells us about the call of Andrew and Simon who later will be known as Peter. It appears for Andrew that he has been feeling the promptings of the spirit for many years and as a result has come into the company of John the Baptist. Like we discussed just a moment ago, Andrew’s call seems to come not only from a personal yearning, but from being around a community of believers.
Simon’s call has a bit of a twist to it. Simon’s brother Andrew reaches out to him and leads him to Christ. I think in this particular instance we are being reminded about the importance of family — about the importance of our connection to those closest to us as a means of preparing our soul for hearing and responding to God’s call. It appears that through this introduction by Andrew, Simon’s life is transformed — a specific calling is understood and the focus of his life is changed.
Unlike the examples given to us in our readings this weekend, God’s call is not in most instances a single event. It is a series of events, a series of calls. For some this call may be very consistent throughout the course of their life and not change very much. For others this call may mean making radical changes in one’s life or one’s plans. Some elements of this call may be very easy while others may challenge us to grow in a direction that we had not thought about previously. Whatever that call may be, or wherever that call may lead, we have no reason to fear for God walks with us. As we have talked about on many previous occasions responding to God’s call may lead us to a joy and a fulfillment we may have never thought possible. As his people, God is communicating with us today. God is calling us today. May we possess that same grace given to Samuel so when our name is being called we can respond “speak Lord for your servant is listening”.