2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
“They saw where He was staying and they stayed with Him.”
Entrance Antiphon: Ps 66(65):4 — “All the earth shall bow down before You, O God, and shall sing to You, shall sing to Your name, O Most High!”
First Reading: 1 Sam 3:3b-10, 19 — “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10 — “Here am I, Lord; I come to do Your will.”
Second Reading: 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20 — “Your bodies are members of Christ.”
Alleluia: Jn 1:41, 17b — Alleluia, alleluia. “We have found the Messiah: Jesus Christ, who brings us truth and grace.” Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: Jn 1:35-42 — “They saw where He was staying and they stayed with Him.”
Communion Antiphon: Ps 23(22):5 — “You have prepared a table before me, and how precious is the chalice that quenches my thirst.”
If the names Michaela, Ben, and Cal Stone are familiar to you, then you’ve been following Manifest, the NBC sci-fi series that is about to begin its third season. The Stones are “828ers,” passengers aboard Flight 828, a plane that landed seemingly routinely, only to discover that five and a half years have elapsed since they left. That’s a lot to swallow. Even more difficult to swallow are the mysterious “callings” they receive from a source unknown.
The Flight 828 callings are science fiction. But the “callings” of Samuel and Peter in today’s readings were very real. So are the callings going on today – right here in this very church.
When I sat down and really thought about the story of Samuel, there are lessons to be learned from his call ... which incidentally is my favorite story in the Bible. At first, when I thought about the situation, Eli is distant, asleep in a different part of the Temple ... while Samuel is close to the Lord’s sanctuary. Second, realize that we are all human and even religious vocations are sometimes subject to burnout ... which I believe is part of Eli’s problem ... in today’s reality it’s a real challenge to try to minister in light of the COVID-19 when people are perhaps scared and don’t want to be involved or when guidelines and regulations tell someone how to do or that you can’t do ... what you’ve been called to do. Aging leaders also “stand in the need of prayer.” And lastly, if you’ve been around the block once or twice and have been frustrated by a seeming lack of progress, it may be difficult to avoid any condescending prejudice against the young, especially if their ideas are new or different. But if we really take the time to think about it and read their stories ... individuals like youngsters Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Ruth, Esther, Joseph (Jacob’s son), Jonathan, Timothy (1 Tm 4:12), and Mary ... could be and are God’s choice.
Consider the extraordinary yet ordinary life of Carlo Acutis, beatified by Pope Francis October 10, 2020. His story is well worth the 30+ minutes it takes to watch his story on YouTube. Carlo died of leukemia at age 15. In one adolescent package: a lively, soccer-playing, teenage computer whiz and perhaps a saint? Yes.
There are also lessons to be learned from Peter’s call. The soon-to-be leader of the Apostles, the first Pope, was called through his brother, Andrew, whose call came through John the Baptist – so we see early evangelization at work. In the Gospel story, these two disciples of the Baptist heard him say “Behold the Lamb of God” in reference to Jesus and so they followed Him. Jesus noticed them following Him and then asked them a question. Is Jesus asking you the same question: “What are you looking for?” And how do you ... how would you answer? ... Truth? Peace? Love? Help? Joy? (And in light of the huge payouts in the Mega-Millions or PowerBall, try to avoid the temptation to say, “the winning lottery number.”) Consider that Jesus narrows the focus a bit: “What are you looking for from me?” How would you answer? These questions apply equally to a seasoned follower and a curious seeker, only in different ways. If we stop looking for something, there’s a good chance we’re stagnating. The term “disciple” often refers to a follower of Jesus, but the root meaning of the word is not “follower” ... it’s “learner.” Perhaps today we should ask ourselves, “Am I still learning from Jesus, or do I already know everything I need?” Are we growing or are we becoming stagnant?
So when you think about discipleship ... each call is different, and yet they’re all alike. Their common elements are being called by Jesus, learning from Him, and sharing faith in Him with others. The differences arise from the unique gifts and unique circumstances of each disciple. We can easily forget that each person here today has a calling just as real as that of Pope Francis. Some calls require prominence while other calls do not. All are real ... doctor, lawyer, teacher, politician, or any profession for that matter ... husband, wife, homemaker, or student ... married, single, religious ... disciple ... and each is important.
Let me conclude by saying that this weekend, we can all learn something from Eli, Samuel, John, Andrew, and Peter. From Eli: If our discipleship or religious fervor has grown a bit stale, it is never too late to rekindle the flame. Even in his fatigue, he was instrumental in guiding Samuel to listen to the Lord. From Samuel: He keeps getting up and (mistakenly) running to Eli, even though he, too, would like to sleep. Persevere when a hungry infant, a sick child, or a frail spouse calls to you at 2:30 in the morning. John the Baptist does not try to hold on to his disciples but instead points them toward Jesus. John realizes it’s not about him. Andrew was with Jesus before Peter. Remember Andrew brought Peter to Jesus and yet Jesus chose Peter to be the leader. Apparently, this was OK with Andrew. This offers each of us a lesson in acceptance.