1 Samuel 3: 3b-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6: 13c-15a, 17-20; John 1: 35-42.
From God’s call to Samuel in the first reading to Jesus’ call to the first Apostles in today’s Gospel we are reminded that each of us is called, and by name. The call is not impersonal. The Lord is addressing each of us personally to respond to His invitation to serve Him, to become His disciple, and to serve the Church. In this New Year our response to God’s challenge to us is something each of us needs to consider.
Imagine Samuel sleeping in the Temple after having served there all day, especially having served Eli, the high priest. It is perhaps natural that when Samuel hears his name being called that he thinks it is Eli with a particular need. Of course, it is the Lord and Eli cannot hear the call. When God calls us, others may not hear the call either. For us though we need to understand the importance of us listening for that call. That is most easily done through prayer as prayer is intended to be a communication not just from us to God, but between God and us as well. In addition, God is calling us each time we hear the Word from Holy Scripture. Are we listening? Are we paying attention? Are we ready to say, “Here I am, Lord?”
In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians Paul poses the question, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” It can be a humbling admission for us that we are not our own; it is equally humbling to submit to God and His call. It is interesting to contrast ourselves as temples of the Holy Spirit with the temple in which God called Samuel in the first reading. Any responsible person recognizes the need to take care of things that do not belong to them. That is Paul’s point to us; we do not belong to ourselves, but we belong to God. That is a central point of the idea of stewardship — everything we are; everything we have; everything we accomplish is because we are God’s and the Lord is with us and in us.
If we have been catechized and if we have paid even minimal attention during our faith lives, there are certain passages from the Bible that strike a chord with us — that is, they relate a story with which we are familiar and most likely have visualized in our own minds. Today’s Gospel from the Book of John falls into that category. It is John’s version of how he and Andrew in particular were called to follow Jesus. We have spoken previously about the unique nature of John’s Gospel when compared to Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Scholars generally agree that John’s was the last written, and that before writing it he, John, may well have read the other three.
In the story related in today’s Gospel it is clear what a significant event this was in the life of John, as he recalls and reports the exact time and place when he met Jesus. Although John’s version of how he was called varies from other versions of how Jesus called the first four Apostles, there is an important element in this Gospel. Andrew goes to get his brother Peter, and in all likelihood John went to get his brother James. Just as those initial disciples of Jesus reached out to their siblings and family members, we, too, are called to that kind of evangelization. Part of our sense of stewardship must be sharing the Good News with those closest to us, our families.