- First reading 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19
- Psalm 39:2,4,7-10
- Second reading 1 Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20
- John 1:35-42
Last Sunday in the Baptism of the Lord, we had Jesus accepting his identity and ministry. The theme of ‘call’ is continued today in the Scripture stories. There is a pattern evident in these scripture stories. It is one of an individual who feels the call of God in the detail of their lives. This call can be dramatic, as with Samuel, or it may be channelled through the encouragement of others or it may be experienced in the silence of prayer and reflection.
It is often followed by protest. The one being called feels unworthy. Moses complained about his lack of fluency in speech. Jeremiah protested his youth. David was left outside minding the sheep as his father brought in David’s other brothers. Our Lady said to Gabriel that, ‘such things are impossible since I am a virgin’. Samuel says it couldn’t be me. It couldn’t be God calling. This resistance is followed by reassurance from God and this is generally succeeded by acceptance and the commissioning of the one being called. The permanent journey into vocation, into ‘Remaining’ with Christ, as the Gospel puts it begins then.
The scriptures tell us of the importance of accepting our personal vocation, of responding to our call in life by abandoning the excuses we routinely offer. God sometimes calls directly, as in the Old Testament story of Samuel, or, more regularly, through others as in the Gospel. The example that others give is the most usual form of inspiring vocation to ministry or to holiness. The growth in understanding of these earliest disciples is obvious in that to one disciple in the Gospel, Jesus is Lamb of God, to another, he is Rabbi and to a third he is the Messiah.
The stories tell us of the importance of listening; to sacred scripture; to prayer, to conscience; to each other; to spiritual guides whom we trust; to reflection and to discernment in the detail of our daily lives. There is also the need to listen within families. Our high rate of suicide may be partly for want of listening in a noisy, confusing world. Where there are so many isolationary trends in family/communities, the need to be together and to listen together becomes greater.
The beginning of Jesus’ public ministry is evident in the calling of the disciples; in their growing understanding of who he really was; in their changing and in their development, symbolised by Peter’s new identity as Cephas or rock and in their attempts to remain with Jesus. For Peter, and for the others, as for ourselves, this journey into faith and into Jesus was to be, and remains, a rocky path.