Offers food for thought
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Readings: First Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; First Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42
Everyone has a vocation: Today’s readings are about that. Everyone has a state of life to which their called and within which they will experience the fullest joy and realize their greatest potential for holiness. That’s what we mean when we say that everyone has a vocation. There are three vocations that a person could be called to live. Most people will be called to the vocation of marriage. Some to religious life / priesthood, and very few to consecrated single life. The readings today focus on the call to religious life / priesthood.
The first and second readings speak to us of two pillars for discerning your vocation. The first is becoming aware of God’s voice and listening. The second focuses on the importance of moral purity of life. Both of these become essential to being able to encounter Jesus, as they did in today’s Gospel reading, and to engage with him, to spend time with him and to discover your true self in him.
The second reading, about moral purity in life, is an important lesson to learn, understand and embrace. Sin and selfishness are like chains that bind the power of God to work within us. The more we serve ourselves, our sinful passions and treat others as objects to be used and abused, the more separated we are from God and the ability recognize the voice of Lord, to listen and to desire to follow as God leads us. Our commitment to moral purity and respect for the temple of the Holy Spirit, our bodies, is directly proportionate to our ability to grow in holiness and self-understanding. It affects our ability to love God, others and ourselves in the way in which we were made to love.
The gospel is also about how the Lord calling can be progressively understood / revealed. We have to be obedient, humbly surrender to God increasingly each day of our lives, in order to increasingly recognize how the Lord continues to lead us. “Come and see.” Knowing Jesus and where he stays is a matter of experience. One could know the new Catechism of the Catholic Church, all 700 pages of it, by heart and still not know Jesus. To know him in the Gospel sense is to seek, find and respond to his loving presence in the fabric of our daily lives.
But, it’s not just all about the will God over and above our own will. It is about discovering ourselves in God and embracing our identity in God. Our deepest desire is for God and our greatest good is to know, love and serve God. In uncovering that desire within and allowing it to flower in fullness, we will discover that our will and God’s will are in union. This is where our freedom is fully realized and our vocation is fully recognized. Just as Jesus said the disciples of John the Baptist, Jesus also asks of you: “What do you want?”
God speaks through others: So, today’s homily is not just for those who have yet to discover the vocation to which God calls. The first reading, although it is about learning to recognize God’s voice and listening, it is also a reminder that having a spiritual guide or mentor is really helpful, almost essential. The young prophet Samuel had been chosen to lead and instruct God's people but when God first started to speak to Samuel's heart, the future spiritual hero didn't even know how to recognize his voice. Eli, had to teach him. Samuel needed Eli in order to know how to directly encounter the Lord and respond.
Not only in this way, but also, every brother and sister in Christ who has realized their vocation, embraced it and continued to grow in holiness through living that vocation, also has a responsibility to become the help that others need for their discernment. John and Andrew had been chosen by God to become two of the twelve apostolic pillars of the Church, and yet, John the Baptist had to point Jesus out to them, twice, before they got the message. Andrew, then became not only a committed follower but the one who also calls. With great excitement he went and found his brother, Simon. Through Simon we see how encounter with Jesus reveals our identity in God. God speaks in so many ways, through so many messengers! Most of us will first experience the call of God through others. It might be parents, grandparents, godparents, friends, co workers, pastors, teachers… even strangers! We just need to tune in.
For all of us: Friendship with Christ, then, means wanting and working for whatever Christ wants and works for. Today's Psalm puts it beautifully: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will...,” that is to say, I want my will to be indistinguishable from your will, because I’ve discovered your purpose for having made me in your image and likeness. So, meaning in life, identity and vocation as well as our ability to be the voice of God in the lives of others are to be found in and through deep relationship with Christ. If we understand that, then our highest priority in life ought to be to constantly deepen that friendship. There are three essential ways to do this. First, you have to gradually develop a mature life of prayer. Second, you have to build your life around the sacraments. Third, allow the deepened relationship with Christ to reveal your true self.
Everyone, take the “Samuel” challenge this week: not just once, but everyday. Take a few minutes of silent prayer and say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” then listen. If you have trouble listening, or think the Lord is trying to tell you something, but don’t quite get it, ask someone, who can give you good spiritual advice, for help.
Peace doesn't just happen; it's made.
CampusPadre is a college ministry Priest Chaplain with 30 years experience in youth and young adult ministry, who strives to let the Holy Spirit lead and challenges students to seek holiness above all.