Speak, Lord, For Your Servant Is Listening
The Baptism of Jesus introduces us to his mission and opens doors for us to participate in that mission. But first, the calling of his disciples places us in the center of his mission. We all believe that all of us are called by the Lord. The invitation to serve God comes to us in different ways. However, how do we recognize the authenticity of our calling? How do we know that we are not just following our selfish desires?
The stories in today’s scripture reading give a sense of how to discern the calling and ways to respond to divine invitation. Discipleship is not something casual. It is a process that requires a growth in understanding, a deeper knowledge of the master and, in our case, a growth in Christian awareness.
In today’s scripture readings we heard the account of Samuel’s calling and that of the apostles: John, Andrew, and Peter. There is a common thread that linked their encounter with their Caller. First, the initiative comes from someone else. They are invited and urged to become disciples. None of them could have become believers or followers on his own. Also, there was a third party who assisted them in responding to their calling. Eli the high priest told the young Samuel “If you are called, reply, “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:9) While the John Baptist helped his disciples to recognize Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” And then Simon Peter was introduced to Jesus. These men heard their calling and accepted it without delay.
On the other hand, you observe the differences in their calling. Likewise, their roles are different. We, too, are called by the Lord; but in different ways and for different jobs. Some of us came to know the Lord at an early age, thanks to the diligent work of our educators; then our faith grew and deepened. Some of us received a similar upbringing but our faith, once strong and vital, grew dull and had to be rediscovered. While some of us benefitted from some gradual or sudden illumination within us. Finally, some of us were probably attracted by the need for, or the witness of others, or the faith community.
Despite all these differences, we are united in one single way of life that has been accepted and chosen by all. It is the absolute of our faith. This faith must take over our body. We give all without reservation. As St. Paul puts it: “You are not your own.” All of it is for the Lord; all of it is a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, discipleship is far more than acceptance or adherence to Christ. It means becoming part of God’s family.
It requires an abandonment of the past and a willingness to see and to stay. In every Mass we are nourished by the body and the blood of Jesus Christ. He also wishes to nourish us with the inspired word of the scriptural readings. That word will strengthen our faith. Our worship, then, is complete when we couple the praise of God with listening to him. We must not harden our hearts but open them wide to hear God’s word.
Grace And Peace To You,
Rev. Vitalis Anyanike