2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I I Samuel 3:3-10, 19
Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10
Reading II 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20
Gospel John 1:35-42
What are you looking for? What am I looking for? What are we looking for? Most of us, especially those who are a little older, have received many calls that have changed our lives. It may have been a call when you applied for college, or a call that you have been accepted. It may have been a call from a relative or friend that someone has died. We get all sorts of calls throughout our life which change our lives, some for the better, some maybe not so good.
Our first reading today is about the importance of God in our life, and the importance for us to listen to God and then to follow his call. The reading is from the first book of Samuel — but before we get into the story let me give you a little background.
There was a woman by the name of Hannah and Hannah was a very faith-filled woman. Hannah was married and her husband had two wives, Hannah being one of them. The other wife had a couple of children but Hannah did not — and Hannah was depressed. She felt that stigma because she had no children.
So one day she goes to the Temple and she prays to God. She prays and prays and prays. Eli happens to be the priest there and he is watching her. She is so intent he cannot hear what she is praying so he goes to her and asks her, “Have you been drinking wine? Are you drunk?” And she says, “No, no, no. But I am really depressed and I have been praying to God.”
And Eli said to her, “I will pray that your wish comes true.”
Her wish was that she would have a child, and if she had a son
she would name him Samuel and when he was a certain age, then give Samuel back to the Lord. Sure enough — what happens? She gives birth to a son and she names him Samuel.
Scripture says after he was weaned, which means today that he was seven or eight years old, she brought him to the Temple to Eli and said, “Mentor him, and teach him.”
So today we have the first reading and here’s Samuel lying on the floor of the Temple and he runs to Eli and asks, “What do you want?”
Eli replies, “I don’t want anything.”
“Well, you called me.”
“No,” said Eli. “You just had a dream. Now go to sleep.”
Samuel did that two times and finally on the third time Eli realized that God was speaking to Samuel. He said to Samuel, “The next time you hear the voice and God calls, you answer — ‘Speak. Your servant is listening.’ ”
Sure enough, God came again and called Samuel. And Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.”
Samuel ended up with a great relationship with God and they continued to talk to each other a lot. In fact, Samuel became the first prophet of Israel. He is the one who anointed Saul and David. His life was forever changed, but he had to listen, he had to hear and he had to take action.
Sometimes we are in the mode of not — “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” But instead, “Listen, Lord. I have something I want from you.” Again, there is nothing wrong with asking God for things but if we really want to be in touch with God, we need to listen.
And yes, God speaks to us in many different ways. He speaks to us through each other, our parents, through our grandparents, through our teachers, and through our faith communities. God is always present talking to us in a variety of ways if only we listen to those signs.
Then in our Gospel reading from John: Here we have John the Baptist out teaching and preaching and who walks by but Jesus. And John says, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Have any of you heard that phrase before? Right before you receive communion what does Father Mike say, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to the Supper of the Lamb.”
When John the Baptist cried out “Behold the Lamb of God,” two of his disciples, Andrew and we are not sure who the other one was although the church says today it was probably the disciple John, left John the Baptist and followed Jesus. And when they followed Jesus they didn’t call, “Jesus, wait up for us.” They just followed him.
And Jesus looked back and noticed them and asked, “What are you after? What do you want?”
They asked, “Where do you live?”
Jesus answered, “Follow me.” And so they followed Jesus and stayed the whole day. Interestingly enough, in the Gospel of John, it was written that it was 4 o’clock. Why would he give a time? Because their time spent with Jesus changed their lives. They were transformed. They were different people. They were filled with the spirit and were ready to go out.
What did Andrew do? The first thing he did was run to his brother Simon and said, “Simon. Guess what? The Messiah is here. Come with me.” And what did Simon do? He followed him, and what did Jesus say to him when he saw him? “I am going to call you Cephas, I am going to call you Peter. I am going to call you the rock.”
Peter followed the Lord.
We are called to listen, and we are called to follow.
You know we all have this inner thirst — this inner thirst for God to be a part of who we are. And once we experience some of that living water, not only do we want the living water for ourselves, but we want it for everyone else. That is why Andrew quickly went to his brother and said, “Come.”
All of us have been called. We have all come to this font and been baptized. We are all children of God. But we still have to listen, and we still have to follow.
I talk about the signs of God speaking to us. Noah here is going to be baptized. Why? Because Mom and Dad say it is important that he has Christ in him. Father Mike asks, “What do you want for Noah?” The parents answer, “We want baptism.”
And godparents: What are you going to do, and are you going to help the parents in raising this child in the faith? And the answer is “yes.”
But it doesn’t end there. It is also up to all of us because we are part of this faith community. We are enlightened by each and every one of us here. Why do we come to Mass on Sundays? We come to praise God, yes, but we also come to be nourished and to learn more about him in the Word. We come to the altar to be fed and to be nourished so we can live the life we need to live, and so we can avoid sin and do what we need to do.
Finally, we see God in each other. We are the faith community who comes for strength and to learn how God truly wants us to live.
We are all called to be disciples. As Sister Ellen said last week, “As disciples prayer is the basis for that. And prayer is talking to God, but prayer is also listening to God.”
“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
How often do we just sit and be and in the presence of God? How often do we ask him what to do when we are trying to make a decision about what to do. How often do we go to each other and say, “Help me in making this decision.” That is God speaking to us through one another.
We heard Terri Rohrer talk this morning about the importance of “hospitality.” If we are truly of God, if we are truly disciples, then we are a welcoming people. We welcome and we want others to be a part of what we have in our faith. But in addition to that, we want to know each other.
If I said to you and said to myself, “Do I know everyone in this congregation at this Mass, or at 8:30 or at 5?” Should I? Yes. It should be a goal that we all have — to know each other and know what is going on in each of our lives and how we can support each other. That’s what it means to be a disciple.
Next week we will learn about “formation.” It’s always important to continue to study Scripture, to study about the church and learn what God has in store for us.
And finally the fourth week we will talk about “service.” If we are truly disciples and we have this relationship with God, and through formation know more about him, and are hospitable — then we are naturally people who serve one another.
What do we want out of life? When Andrew left John the Baptist and went to Jesus, he never went back. When Samuel heard the voice of God, he never left. God became a part of who they were. And we, as disciples, need to do the same. If we put God in our lives, and if we make him the center of who we are, then we are happy and we are content.
Do we have ups and downs? Sure. But with God in our lives we can handle those ups and downs. So just as Jesus asked the disciples, “What are you looking for?” I think you and I have found what we are looking for. It is Jesus Christ in our life.
So this week let us ask, “What do we need to do to be more in prayer? What do we need to do to be more in hospitality?”
To grow closer and closer to him.
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Terry Ellerman is a retired educator and serves as a deacon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Quincy, Illinois.