Second Sunday of the Year 1 Sm 3:3-10 & 19; 1 Cor 6:13-15 & 17-20; Jn 1:35-42 (Year B)
“You do not ask for sacrifice and offerings, but an open ear. You do not ask for holocaust and victim. Instead, here am I.”
The prayer of the psalmist reminds us that the first step in holiness is an open ear. As sinners, we are all too conscious of our imperfections and the temptation, especially at the beginning of a new year, is to commit ourselves to a thorough spiritual workout. We fail to recognise, as did the psalmist, that the Lord has no need of our proposals. He longs only for an attentive ear, a heart that chooses to rest in his presence.
The first book of Samuel records in detail the prophet’s call. Subsequent chapters describe his sure guidance as Israel established herself as a nation and kingdom. Compared to his, our lives are lived on a less heroic scale. Nevertheless, the discernment of our own lives and vocation must surely follow the pattern of Samuel’s calling.
Already from the earliest years Samuel’s way of life had placed him close to God. He lived at the Temple Sanctuary in Jerusalem. We live distracted lives in a complex world, but we can, through patient prayer, create within ourselves a sanctuary that longs for the stillness of God’s presence.
From that stillness the young Samuel heard a voice calling his name. At first he mistook that voice as a call to action from his master Eli. We, like the young Samuel, frequently mistake life’s unfolding events as a call to immediate action, action we sometimes come to regret. Eli guided his young charge to attentive listening rather than to immediate action: “Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ ”
A gracious God longs to be heard and experienced, to be welcomed as the ground of our being. Only such patient listening gives meaning and purpose to the unfolding of our lives.
As Eli pointed the young Samuel to the presence of his Lord, so John the Baptist urged his disciples to Jesus as the Lamb of God. In this first encounter Jesus had but one question: “What do you want?”
Like leaves blown in the wind, we have conflicted and frequently contradictory wants. In response to the question of Jesus, the disciples replied: “Where do you live?”
As the year begins, let us review our many wants, following only those that echo Christ’s invitation: “Come and see.”