Bulletin: January 17, 2020
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
The stories of the call of Samuel and of the first disciples in John’s Gospel help us begin to understand the nature of God’s call. It is not a work order from a distant God to carry out a specific task, but an invitation to participate in what God is already doing. The journey begins with God’s intentions and activity. After the initial moment of call, God is shown to be actively leading these ordinary people to partner in God’s work. For ourselves, we might not experience a single or dramatic moment of call. God’s call can take many forms. But like Samuel, and like Jesus’ disciples, we are invited into a relationship of trust and friendship with God. We too are invited to employ the gifts God has given us, always in dialogue with our God, in our daily lives.
OUR DEEPEST DESIRES
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus’ first spoken words in the Gospel of John: “What are you looking for?” This penetrating question reverberates throughout John’s Gospel. The disciples who form Jesus’ first community, and many others who meet Jesus during his life, are drawn to him, seeking something they can’t quite name. As Jesus called and formed his community of disciples, he probed their hearts and allowed them to probe his heart. They shared their deepest needs, hopes, and commitments.
Jesus’ words might be directed to us, here and now. Sometimes we struggle to name what we really want. In our faith journey, in prayer and in lived experience, we learn to share our dreams and also to open our hearts to know God’s dreams. In time, with lots of practice, with many successes and failures, we learn to trust God to shape and to fulfill our deepest desires.
YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING
We hear of young Samuel today, dedicated to a life of service to God, under the guidance of Eli, a Temple priest. Twice, Samuel hears the call of God and says “Here I am” to Eli. At last Eli recognizes that it is God who is calling Samuel. When Samuel hears God a third time, Samuel does not say “Here I am,” but “Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” We can see a subtle shift as Samuel moves away from announcing his intention to serve and more clearly opens himself to God’s voice. Samuel allows God to take the initiative, and attends first to God’s intentions rather than his own.
Samuel’s story helps us to remember that accepting God’s call is not only about a new chapter in our personal story. Our acceptance is, more profoundly, a new moment in God’s story. Even in our smallest “yes,” God celebrates our partnership in God’s great work. Through our openness and acceptance, God has new opportunities to bring all of us into loving unity with God.