“The LORD came and stood forth, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for thy servant hears.’” (1 Samuel 3:10)
On this second Sunday of Ordinary Time, our readings challenge us to reflect on our Christian identity. We are Christians not simply because we attend Church but because we have been called. What have I been called to? Am I still responding to that call? As we try to answer these questions from the depths of our hearts, let us consider the various ways God continues to call us today.
1. God Calls us in the Sacraments
On the day of our baptism, each of us was called by name. The voice of the priest at baptism represents the voice of God just He called Samuel in our first reading. Just as Eli guided the young Samuel, Parents and Godparents (Sponsors) are particularly called to the task of guiding the young by showing them good examples. As a parent or a sponsor, how well am I living up to the demands of this call? Jesus warned us: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” (Mark 9:42). Do I even create time to check up on those whom I have sponsored?
Again on the day of our Confirmation, when we became soldiers of Christ, we were called by name. Do I still remember the words the Bishop spoke to me that day? Have I been using the weapons of warfare in my spiritual battle against the kingdom of darkness in our world? (See Ephesians 6:10-18, 2nd Cor. 10:3-4)
In Holy Matrimony, God calls us by name (through our spouse) when we stood before the Altar to exchange our marital vows. “I …N… do take you …N… to be my lawfully wedded…) As a married man or woman, am I still faithful to my marital calling? Again, on the day of our ordination, God called out our names and we stood to answer “Present” walking up to the altar where we prostrated ourselves surrendering our lives to the Church. How well am I living up to the vows of my priestly calling today?
Every time we attend the Holy Mass, God calls us by speaking to our conscience, in the Liturgy of the Word (i.e. the readings and the homily). Hence, like soldiers who have just been briefed by their commander, we rise afterwards to say (or sing) the creed: “Yes I Believe” meaning “I accept, I will obey”. You see, God has not stopped calling us today. It is not the case that God is silent, it is rather the case that we are not listening.
2. God’s Call Requires Active Listening.
Samuel was lying down within the temple, he was not sleeping. There is a difference between lying down and sleeping. For Samuel to have heard God, he was fully conscious like one who was expecting to be called. If we are not spiritually alert and awake, we would not hear God’s voice. St. Paul would say: “You are not in darkness, brethren, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6).
God never forces His way on anyone as the saying goes, ‘when the student is ready, the master appears.’ We must be ready for God with hearts positively disposed to listen like Samuel who said: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” He didn’t say: “Please, stop disturbing me, can’t you see I am trying to sleep?” God calls willing hearts. In our Gospel passage, John the Baptist pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God to his disciples but it was these disciples who made the move themselves to approach Jesus. Like these disciples, am I willing and ready to leave everything behind for God’s sake?
3. God Calls us to Purity
In our second reading today, St. Paul present a very important dimension of God’s especially to us modern-day Christians: “Shun immorality. … Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own; so glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). An essential part of our calling as Christians has to do with what we do with our bodies and it begins with the kind of thoughts we allow in our minds, the words we speak, the way we look at others, the manner in which we dress and what we do or refuse to do.
Jesus told us: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8). You cannot serve two masters; you cannot worship God when you are in church only for you to desecrate His Temple (your body) by indulging in sexual immorality when you are out of the church. The book of Hebrews tells us: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22) Whatever you do with your body, you are either insulting God (who has claimed you for Himself) or praising Him.
4. God Calls us to Call Others.
In both Matthew and Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is quite explicit with his disciples when He stated: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, Mark 1:17). Meanwhile, in John’s Gospel, this very reality plays itself out so beautifully. After spending a day with Jesus, Andrew did not need anyone to tell him that what he has experienced was just too good to be kept to himself alone. Our people say: “When food too sweet, dem no dey chop am alone.”
God never calls us just for our own sake. No! Whenever He calls, it is always so that we too can, in turn, call others. When God called Matthew, he brought all his friends to Jesus and there was a great party in his house. Many of those often regarded as sinners (for the sake of their job as tax-collectors) repented and started walking in the light from that day on. As Andrew went on to call Peter, Jesus desires that each one of us would bring at least one person to Him in the course of our lifetime. In truth, our mandate as Christians is to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15).
One reason why we often fail to bring people in is because we are yet to experience Christ ourselves. We are yet to allow Christ to permeate the depths of our Being. We are yet to feel the joy and peace that only Christ can bring. We are so ashamed of talking to others about Christ because, even though we attend Church regularly, we still do not know Christ. Surely, you cannot give what you do not have.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my heart to listen attentively to your call, strengthen my will to answer when I hear it, teach me to serve you in my body and use me as your instrument of salvation for the whole world. Amen
Bible Study: 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19, Psalm 40, 1st Corinthians 6:13-20 and John 1:35-42).