Homily for the second Sunday, year B.
I remember as a seminarian, I was told not to say that God has called me to be a priest in the Augustinian Order, but rather to say, I am here to see if God is calling me to be an Augustinian priest. When I was told this, I did not really understand what they were talking about because I was convinced that God was calling me. But today I understand better. We were 22 in number when we were invited for the candidacy programme in the Augustinian Order, 13 were admitted and only 5 ordained Augustinian Priests. That is how the call of God is, it is God who calls, we cannot call ourselves. The same is true of Samuel; we read about him today in our first reading. His first call was that of his mother and not of God. Samuel’s mother prayed and promised that if God gives her a Son, she would dedicate the Child to him (God). When the prayer was eventually answered, she fulfilled her promise by dedicating the Child to God to serve in the Temple. At that point, Hannah called her son or dedicated her son to serve in the Temple, but God had to call him to be a prophet.
The boy Samuel grew under the care of Eli. The day came when God called Samuel; he was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord where the ark of God was. Three times God called him by name: Samuel! Samuel!! Samuel!!! And three times he confused the voice of God for that of Eli. It was after the third time that Eli realised it was God who was calling the boy; so, he said to Samuel, go and lie down, and if someone calls say, speak Lord, your servant is listening. Samuel went back to bed only to hear the voice again and he answered, speak, Lord, your servant is listening. That was when Samuel responded to the call of God and not when the mother brought him. That call and the response marked the beginning of Samuel’s personal encounter with God.
The same thing happened in our gospel reading today. John the Baptist had his own disciples, and on this particular day, he was standing with two of them when Jesus passed. John recognised Jesus the way Eli recognised God, and John introduced his own disciples to Jesus the way Eli introduced the boy Samuel to God. The two disciples left John and followed Jesus, Jesus turned and asked; what do you want? They answered, Rabbi-which means teacher where do you live? Come and see he replied.
That was a call, come and see. They followed him and stayed with him. They had a personal encountered with Jesus the way Samuel had a personal encounter with God.
Samuel was sleeping in the sanctuary, yet, had no personal encounter with God until he was called. The two disciples of John stayed with their master yet they had no personal encounter with God as such, until they were called to come and see.
At baptism, we were all called into having personal experience of God. A personal experience of God strengthens our Christian living; Christianity is above Church attendance, though Church attendance cannot be separated from Christianity. We need the Church, we need one another. Samuel needed Eli while the two disciples of John needed John. God reveals himself and speaks to us in the ordinary events of life; good or bad. There may be things in our lives that hinders our hearing or distort our understanding of God’s voice. There are so many deceptive voices calling today, trying to confuse the children of God. We must be careful about the voice we listen to, about the voice we follow. Do not let yourself be deceived by the end-times agents of the devil, watch and pray.
As we celebrate this Sunday, let us open up to the promptings of the Holy Spirit working in and through the Church and the ordinary events of our lives.