Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 15 January 2012
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-10; 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42
The young Samuel heard God’s call in the temple at night, but he didn’t recognise it as God’s voice until Eli identified it for him. Eli was an ineffective mentor to his own sons, unable to stop their contemptuous abuse of religious rituals, but he had the wisdom to direct Samuel’s response to God. And so began Samuel’s life as a prophet who heard and declared the word of God.
The way John recounts it, the calling of Jesus’ first disciples isn’t exactly a calling in the conventional sense. Instead two disciples of John the Baptist, hearing their master’s description of Jesus as the Lamb of God, set off after him. Jesus’ question to them – ‘What are you looking for?’ – is an interesting question for us to ponder ourselves. What are we actually looking for, really? They answer with a question of their own: ‘Rabbi, where are you staying?’ They may not be able to find words for their curiosity or verbalise their longing, but they know that whatever it is they are searching for, Jesus is the key. Jesus’ reply, on one level a simple invitation to accompany him, on another level describes the path of discipleship, the path of finding and living out our calling: ‘Come and see’. It is in journeying with Jesus that they will discover what they seek. After the first afternoon spent with Jesus, the experience is so captivating that Andrew seeks out his brother Simon Peter to join them.
I like the way today’s psalm begins – I waited and waited. That’s the experience of so many of us as we try to hear God’s voice and God’s call in our own life. It takes time and attentive listening to discover the song that God has given us to sing. The calling is to live a life of obedience to God. And that life doesn’t look like lots of religious activity, but consists in actually doing God’s will. In essence, it is to say ‘Here I am” when God calls.
Paul reminds us that we belong to God in our entirety, not just our spirituality. Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. His point in this passage is about moral living, that we cannot divorce our physical life from the spiritual, but I’ll apply it in a slightly different way. Samuel was asleep in the temple when he heard God calling him. But if we are the temple within which the Spirit of God dwells, then maybe that’s where we’ll hear God’s call – written into the way God has formed and made us. We discover God’s call within our embodied experience in the real world. Perhaps our calling in life is to bring glory to God by being fully ourselves – not the person we’d like to be, or who others would like us to be, but the person we are created to be.