Photo: Just a dream, just an ordinary dream by Wade Brooks / CC BY-NC 2.0

A Dominican Sister’s Reflection…

1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19    1 Cor. 6:13c-15a, 17-20    John 1:35-42

We have in today’s first reading and gospel stories of call and response, both of which we are familiar – in fact we have heard them in the past ­As we ponder these scriptures of call and reflect on God’s calls in our lives, there seem to be common characteristics:

  • They may come to us in prayer, in an inspiration, even in a dream.
  • They may come to us in our youth, young adulthood, or wisdom years.
  • They come in ordinary, seemingly insignificant moments, but if we are attentive to the promptings of our hearts we will be given the insight to recognize them.
  • And they may be presented to us by a person or event that attracts us and beckons us in some way, and which we may push aside as coincidence or chance.

I like to call these the “Had it not been for…” moments. These people or events can be the instruments of God’s invitation, messengers, if you will, who are filled with God’s presence and understand what it means to be used as disciples.

In the first reading from the Book of Samuel, we hear of this call as a young boy serving in the temple. But before we look at the familiar call of Samuel, it is important to look at the chapters which precede it where we read about this mother, Hannah, a woman of faith. She was distraught at being childless. Daily she presented her self in the temple and prayed that she might bear a child, promising that if God heard her prayer she would not keep her child for herself but give him to the Lord for as long as he lived.

Her prayer was answered and she gave birth to a son whom she called Samuel, which means, “he over whom the name God is pronounced.” Had it not been for Hannah’s faith and trust in God and constant prayer we could surely ask if Samuel would not have been born?

We return to the young Samuel serving in the temple. Scripture scholars tell us that he slept in the chamber of the temple where the ark of God was kept. This privilege was usually given to the high priest who along would have access to this most sacred place. Samuel’s presence there was an indication that he was destined for great things.

One night as he slept Samuel heard a voice calling him three times, and three times, as would have been his responsibility, he got up and went to care for Eli, the priest of the temple who had served there into his later years and was now blind. The scriptures indicate that “a revelation of the Lord was uncommon and vision infrequent.” But Eli who had prayed and was open to listening to God for years sensed that something new was happening, he humbly instructed Samuel to speak and assure God that he was listening with open ears and an attentive heart. When Samuel did as he was directed by Eli, not only did the Lord speak, but came and stood before him.

Samuel had received a revelation — a bond had been forged between himself and God. His responsiveness opened him further, enabling him to receive the word of God and to speak it to others. Had it not been for the humility of Eli, the messenger of God, Samuel would not have had the courage to speak to the Lord and accept his prophetic ministry. It is Samuel who would anoint Saul and David as the first kings of Israel, transforming the entire history of the people of Israel.

As we ponder the Gospel passage from John we read about the call of the first two disciples of Jesus, who are in fact already disciples of John the Baptist. There is no call from Jesus for the disciples in this passage. John’s lifetime of living his call from God, is fulfilled in the moment of clarity and recognition of Jesus. Not jealous of his own importance as a preacher and religious leader, John directs his two disciples, one of whom is Andrew, to follow Jesus, the Lamb of God. Had it not been for John would these disciples have followed the one they recognized as Rabbi, teacher?

The Gospel tells us that having spent the day listening to Jesus, the first thing Andrew did was find his brother, Simon. Inspired by the words of the teacher Jesus, Andrew’s life was changed. This was such a clear invitation by God to follow Jesus that he was compelled in turn to tell his brother that he had found the Messiah. Andrew was the instrument of God’s call. Had it not been for Andrew we wonder if Simon would have come to know Jesus, who in turn called him to a life-changing vocation.

As followers of Jesus have we not recognized him, heard his call in our hearts, and been instruments of God’s call for others? We all know of instances in our families, in our jobs, in our ministries where we encounter God. Perhaps as we meet each other today and in the future we could share our “Had it not been for” moments when we have heard God’s call. These are stories of trust in our ever faithful God who continues to call us. May we listen and be attentive to the promptings of our hearts.

Carleen Maly, OP