Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 3b-10, 19
Psalm 40:2, 4-10
1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Our liturgy for this Second Sunday in Ordinary Time begins with an introduction to the figure of Samuel, the last of the Israelite judges. Samuel is regarded as a prophet who would anoint both Saul and David, the first two kings of the Kingdom of Israel. It was Hannah, Samel’s mother, who presented her son to the priest Eli in thanksgiving for his birth. In our first reading we find Samuel sleeping in the temple, young and inexperienced with regards to things of God. The writer of the first book of Samuel excuses his inability to hear God speaking to him by telling us that “at that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord, because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet.” After four almost comical attempts by God to speak with Samuel, with the guidance of Eli the priest, Samuel is able to recognize God’s voice. It is then that Samuel embraces the role he was destined to play in salvation history.
Samuel is a good model for all those who seek to be attuned to the voice of God speaking to them. Like Samuel, it takes a great deal of practice to hear God speaking through the din of the world that surrounds us. The blessed quiet that so often accompanies prayer gives us the opportunity to genuinely hear God speaking. But like Samuel, we also need the guidance of someone experienced in hearing God’s voice. A priest or teacher, a family member or friend, can sometimes be the channel for grace to instruct us on the things of God. Such guides can teach us what the voice of God sounds like, and those guides can nudge us in the right direction, away from all that could harm us. Armed with the Scriptures, the Sacraments, and our personal prayer, and guided by the holiest of mentors, we can come to be men and women who hear God speaking to them.
John the Baptizer was that kind of mentor to the first apostles in our gospel reading. The call of the apostles in John’s gospel differs from that of the Synoptics, in that the Baptist is the catalyst for them coming to know the Lord. It is at his selfless urging that the apostles recognized in Jesus “the Lamb of God.” It is John the Baptist that awakens their inspired curiosity. It is their trust in his proclamation that causes them to follow Jesus. But it is Jesus’ teaching which convinces them that they need to find a home in his presence. It is the beauty of Jesus’ teaching that causes Andrew to seek out his brother, Simon Peter, and let him know that they had found “the Messiah.” Even the apostles needed the assistance of others to discover the role that the Son of God would invite them to embrace in salvation history.
We, too, need the witness of others who teach us how to identify the voice of God speaking to us, in order that we might become witnesses of God’s incarnate love for others. God is in constant conversation with the world that He created. If God seems distant, it is not God who moved. Let us be the good listeners that God intends us to be. As Samuel, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and so many others have done, let us also listen to God speaking to us and inviting us to be part of his redemptive plan for the world. When we hear that divine voice breaking through the noise of our world, may we generously respond with the psalmist, “Here am I Lord; I come to do your will.”