In today’s Gospel reading, we see that Andrew and his friend are curious about Jesus and all the buzz around him. And their interest is peeked when they hear John say, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” What???
And when Jesus turned and asked them, “What are you looking for?” I’m pretty sure they were both awestruck, and dumbstruck, and Andrew said the first stupid thing that came to mind. “So, where are you staying?” An awkward moment perhaps.
But what is Jesus’ response to Andrew? A beckon. A call to encounter. An invitation to stay curious, “Come and see!”
With that simple response, “Come and see,” Jesus diffuses an embarrassing moment and pulls Andrew and his friend into his presence. So they went, spent the evening, and were forever changed.
A classic story of calling.
Let’s go to our first reading Chapter 3 of the First Book of Samuel. If you read the first two chapters, you learn that Samuel is the child of Hannah who wept, and prayed, and made promises to God if she could only conceive a child. And when she did, she offered a beautiful prayer of praise and thanks to God. (BTW: Hannah’s Prayer, found at the beginning of chapter two is a forerunner of Mary’s Magnificat in Luke. Worth reading!)
While the family dynamics are complicated for Hannah, the boy, Samuel, gets to serve in the temple at Shiloh with an old priest named Eli. Under Eli’s leadership visions have become rare in the land; he can’t see. The child Samuel wakes Eli up three times before the old priest catches on that it is God who is calling Samuel. This call story marks a transition. The religion of holy places such as Shiloh, where Eli is the priest, is passing away. Eli doesn’t hear God’s voice anymore; a new generation does. In Samuel, Israel’s greatest judge, and first prophet, arises among the people. He comes to know the Holy One and learns to listen to God’s voice. Through this boy God begins to do something new in Israel’s history.
Eli was Samuel’s first mentor, but he had limitations and flaws. In his old age he had lost his vision of the Lord, and could no longer hear God’s callings. Yet, he recognized that God was calling Samuel, and he knew how to coach Samuel in responding. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”
A couple of questions worth reflecting on:
3) We respond.
Andrew and another disciple go and see firsthand where Jesus lives, stay with him for a few hours, and leave transformed. Afterward, Andrew immediately tells his brother Peter that he has found the messiah
Each one of us is invited, beckoned, called into the same transforming relationship with Jesus.
Let me tell you about a man who, today, will remain unnamed. There was a man who, as a young adult, heard God’s call as “to be for . . .” When asked, he would explain that it was really rather simple. God had called him to be for others, do what he can to meet the needs of those around him, and help meet the needs those who suffer.
Yet later in his life, in his fifties, as his youthful energy waned, and his need to be needed was tempered, he sensed a change in God’s call for him. In his prayer and discernment, he now heard God’s call as “to be with . . .” And when asked, he explained that he could no longer meet the needs of those around him, nor was he ever able to fully do so, but he could, with God’s help, be fully present to those around him, whether or not needs are met.
This shift allowed him to discover an aspect of God he had not seen before. God is fully present all the time—there in the pain as well as the joy, in the heartache as well as the heartthrob, in the failure as well as the success. God’s essential gift is loving presence. And so, “to align myself with God,” he concluded, “I too must strive to be fully present—to myself, to others, to nature and creation.”
How do you know it’s God’s call that you’re responding to? I’ve mentioned these points before, but I think they’re worth repeating here.
· Responding to God’s call . . . will likely make you happy. If it makes you depressed, it’s likely not God’s call.
· Responding to God’s call . . . will likely not be easy. It will likely stretch you toward something you never thought you could do or be.
· Responding to God’s call . . . will most certainly benefit others besides yourself. If it only involves you, it’s likely not God’s call.
· Responding to God’s call . . . will likely, in the end, not be overly complicated. You’ll be able to explain to others in just a few words.
The prayer of the one who desires to know God’s call could go something like this: O God, out of your love and care and concern for all of creation, I believe you are active in the world. Help me to align my activity in the world with your activity in the world. Amen.
Let's listen to the words of a man who clearly responded to God's call.