By   January 12, 2018

Ordinary Time: Second Sunday

Ready! At your Service!

A “call narrative” is the appropriate term to speak of our readings today.  In the Old Testament passage we hear of God’s call to the young boy Samuel; the Gospel describes the invitation of Jesus to Andrew and Simon.  All three individuals respond with generosity, following an unexpected invitation to serve the Lord and his people.

Samuel’s Background.  Samuel was the son of Hannah and Elkanah.  According to Jewish tradition, Samuel was about twelve years old when he received his prophetic call during a revelation at night.  He was staying in the temple of Jerusalem, near the ark of God, which symbolized God’s presence.  The elderly priest Eli was also staying in the temple.

As narrated in the first reading, Samuel did not recognize the voice of Yahweh who was calling him.  That Samuel failed a second time to recognize the voice of the Lord demonstrates his unpreparedness to follow God’s call.  Only on the third attempt, with assistance from Eli, does Samuel recognize Yahweh’s voice.  He describes himself as God’s servant; he professes his readiness to serve the Lord; he dedicates his entire life to God as a prophet.

God’s Initiative.  An important lesson that can be learned from these “call narratives” is that it is always God who acts first.  It was God who called Samuel to service as a prophet; it was Jesus who called Andrew and Peter to be his disciples.  Recall the words of Jesus: “You did not choose me; no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16).  Yes, God calls, but we must respond by finding out who God is and what he is asking of us.

Role of Others.  Notice that the boy Samuel needed another (Eli) to help him recognize God’s voice.  Andrew and Peter came to know Jesus through the instrumentality of John the Baptist.  Fortunately, all three listened to God’s voice that came to them through another.  This same dynamic is true for us; often it is through the words and example of others that we more clearly recognize how God is leading us.  We should seek those relationships that will expose us to people who can help us recognize God’s presence and action in our lives.

Human Limitations.  Our scripture readings today also describe God’s invitation to three individuals who were not prepared for the call.  Samuel was only a young boy asleep in the temple when the call came.  Andrew and Peter were followers of John the Baptist, who then pointed them to Jesus, the Lamb of God.  We, too, accepting our limitations, are called to serve the Lord in a variety of ways.

Generous Response.  Samuel had the humility to listen to God’s voice and respond: “Here I am.  You called me….  Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”  The two disciples, Andrew and Peter, are engaged by Jesus; he asks them: “What are you looking for?”  They respond: “Rabbi, where do you stay?”  Jesus responds with an invitation: “Come and see.”  And, Andrew and Peter begin to walk the path of discipleship.  We ask ourselves: Has someone pointed us toward Jesus Christ, and have we had enough courage to go to see where Jesus lives?

Challenges.  The “call narratives” of Samuel and of Andrew and Peter present us several challenging invitations.  Do we take time to listen to God’s voice in daily life and in the Word of God (Scriptures)?  Are we instruments that help lead others to discover and encounter Jesus?  Do we often pray the words of today’s responsorial psalm: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will”?

Prepared by: James H. Kroeger, MM (E-mail:)