During my formation to the priesthood, I had one of my six weeks pastoral experiences with an elderly priest who has a hilarious way of calling people around him for assistance. He would clear his throat and ask: “onye nonso?”, which means “who is nearby?” Consequently, anyone within earshot would emerge to help him with an errand which often consisted of giving him the television remote around the corner, or to hand him a book just beside him.
During the first week of my stay with him, I discovered that I was the only one running the errand for him because I would always rush to him when he calls out: “onye nonso” (who is nearby). It dawned on me in the subsequent weeks that whenever the priest clears his throat, the young people who had been staying with him would quickly run away. The idea was to avoid his call for a nearby person because the errands are mostly annoying like he once called and asked me to search for his keys meanwhile he was sitting on them and turning off the television he was watching.
The First Reading today (1 Sam 3:3b-10,19), tells us about the call of Samuel at a very critical time in the history of the people of Israel when they sinned and lost divine communication. We could recall that Samuel was dedicated to the service of God as his mother Hannah promised when she came to Shiloh to pray for the fruit of the womb after years of bareness. Samuel thus represents God’s answer to the prayer of Hannah.
It is important to note that the call of Samuel came while he was sleeping in the temple where the ark of God was. In life, where you choose to determine what happens your way. Samuel decided to stay close to God, and that was why God could reach out to him. God would always reach out to those who are nearby. In the manner of the elderly priest in our opening story, God was asking, “onye nonso” (who is nearby?); and Samuel was the closest.
The story of the call of Samuel is also our own story. God is continually calling us through His words to come out of the darkness and enter his marvelous light (1Pet. 2:9). God calls us to himself through the sacraments. Through baptism, we are called to become children of God and members of the Church. In the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we are called into union with Christ through our partaking in his body and blood (John 6:56). And in the sacrament of Holy Anointing, we are called out from infirmity to wholeness and restoration (Jer. 30:17).
The sacrament of confirmation calls us into the legion of the faithful soldiers of Christ, while in the sacrament of penance we are called to repentance and eternal life. In the sacrament of Holy Orders, we are called to become ministers of the word and the sacraments while the in sacrament of the Holy Matrimony married couples are invited to dedicate themselves to love and service for the rest of their lives while being open to procreation and training of the children God may give to them.
Today, in our day and age we have many voices calling for our attention and the question we should ask ourselves is “whom do we answer?” We are the new “Samuels” of our time, how often do we respond to God’s call. Usually, we give excuses why we should not answer the call of God inviting us to repentance, faith, charity, and hope in God. We often prefer to answer the call to social, political, and cultural lives to the detriment of our spiritual lives.
In the Second Reading (1 Cor.6:13c-15a, 17-20), St. Paul brings our attention to the call to immorality which many people tend to answer and defy the body which should be for Christ. The reality is that there is a conflict between the flesh and the spirit. St. Paul writing to the Galatians (5:16ff) tells us to live by the spirit and not to gratify the desires (call) of the flesh because the flesh is opposed to the spirit and the spirit is opposed to the flesh.
In the Gospel Reading (John 1: 35-42), Andrew and another disciple of John decided to follow our Lord Jesus Christ when John pointed out that he is the lamb of God. That decision was an answer to a divine call. Andrew extends the call by introducing his brother Simon Peter to the Lord. The invitation today is not only to answer the call but also to bring others along to come and see the Lord and what he could do in our lives.
Today, we are all invited to be attentive to the divine call at various points in our lives. God is still calling us in our minds and hearts, in our families in our daily preoccupations, in our communities, and other engagements. Let us like Samuel be ready to say, “Speak Lord for servant is listening.” Have a great day and a glorious week ahead.