A scholarly attempt at an interpretation of Sunday's liturgical readings.

Do you hear what I hear?

I truly believe it!  Caller ID is the best invention since sliced bread.  When the phone rings, caller ID tells you who is calling.  Many times you can see that it is a marketer trying to sell you something.  If you don’t recognize either the name or the phone number, the recorded message will tell you (or not).

Two of the readings for the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (I Samuel 3:3-10, 19 and John 1:35-42) deal with “calling,” and there was a “sort of” Caller ID to explain the message.

In the first reading from I Samuel, the young boy Samuel, who was an assistant to Eli a priest, is called by name.  Samuel thought it was Eli since the two of them lived in the “house” of the Lord, and it was late at night.  Samuel ran to Eli, woke him up, and said, “Here I am. for you called me.”  Eli knew he did not. He then sent Samuel back to bed.

The same calling of Samuel by name occurred two more times.  Each calling resulted in Samuel going to Eli and making the same statement.  After the third “call by name” Eli realized that it was the Lord’s disembodied voice that was calling Samuel.  So he told him to go back to bed, and the next time he heard the call, he was to say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”  Samuel did what he was told, and subsequently he became a significant figure in the future history of Israel.  In a certain sense, Eli functioned as the CallerID for Samuel.

In the Gospel reading, the disciples present heard the call directly from Jesus.  They asked him where he was going and he replied, “Come follow me.”  Undoubtedly aware of his reputation, they did.  Perhaps it was an inner openness to Jesus that allowed them to say “yes” to the direct call.  We can likely asume that this intuitive sense of openness was a type of “caller ID” that motivated their decision to answer the call.

It appears to me that we can learn something from the above readings.  First of all, by virtue of our Baptism we are “called” to be disciples of Christ.  Secondly, the call can come to us in various ways.  For example, as in the case of Samuel the call to discipleship came via a disembodied voice.  Perhaps the “caller ID” can be for us something that someone says or does, such as a verbal plea for helping to bring about justice in our society.  Or reading about people  helping others during their moments of disaster.  Reflection and consultation help me to decide if what I am hearing or seeing is my call to discipleship.

In the case of the apostles, the personal call from Jesus was likely answered from an intuitive sense of who Jesus was and what he did.  This inner conviction becomes the guiding principle of a positive response.  For us, reflection and consultation become the “caller ID” clarifying the intuition which comes by being faithful to our Baptismal promises.  Mary had this innter conviction, so that when the angel asked her to be the mother of Jesus although she was not married, she answered much the same way as did Samuel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.  Let it be with me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)  Faith becomes the basis for the intuition.

The “call” keeps coming.  Jesus wants us to be his disciples.  Our challenge is to hear that call, clarify its meaning, and act accordingly.

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