Those seeking the Lord must practise what He teaches

  • January 3, 2012

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Jan. 15 (1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19; Psalm 40; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1: 35-42)

Perhaps some of us have had the eerie experience of hearing our name called when no one was around. It can happen when we are awake or asleep, but there is always the very clear and startling sense that we are being called by someone.

Most of the time we shrug it off and go on our way.  But often it leaves us with a slightly unsettled feeling.

Now there are probably tons of psychological and physiological answers for these phenomena and often they are applicable. There are also those experiences that are much deeper and refuse to go away.

Samuel heard a voice calling his name in the middle of the night and it was very insistent and real. Twice he heard the voice; twice an irritated Eli sent him back to bed after denying that he had called him. Eli gave him some sage advice: if it happens again, just say “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” In other words, keep quiet and listen — don’t try to figure things out.

Samuel’s readiness to serve and his rapt attention and openness become the channel through which God’s power could flow. It is put in a very powerful and poetic way — God let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. Listening to God (or even to other people!) is not something at which we excel. Our minds can be filled with opinions, questions, reactions and rationalizations. Being inwardly still, humble and receptive will open us to quality communication from above and from others. 

Paul did not lay down many rules for his communities but he was always very insistent on leading a life “in Christ.” His exhortation to the troublesome Corinthian community is a fine example.

It is obvious that some of the members were engaging in sexually immoral behaviour. But rather than rules and threats he framed the issue in a unique definition of the body. He presents three excellent reasons for avoiding immoral behaviour without threats or visions of judgment and punishment.

First of all, their bodies are not their own — they have been bought by the Lord at a price, the cross. Secondly, they do not belong to the body of Christ — they are actually part of that body, and what they do to their bodies they do to the body of Christ.

Finally, their bodies are actually a temple in which the spirit of God dwells. Paul exhorted them to glorify God in the body — embodiment is a means of prayer and worship rather than a prison or a curse.

Did Jesus seek out and call the disciples or were they the ones who found Him? If one reads Matthew, Luke and Mark, Jesus walked up to unsuspecting individuals and commanded them to follow. They dropped everything — jobs, families, etc. — and became His disciples.

John tells it differently: the disciples found Jesus, and not only that, most of them were already disciples of John the Baptist. His recognition of Jesus as the Lamb of God was the trigger that sent them running after the Master.

Two different traditions, two versions — but both agree that they indeed did follow Jesus.

But seeking is what this dialogue is all about. The seemingly banal question “What are you looking for?” is addressed to the reader (or hearer) of this Gospel. It has a far deeper meaning than a mere request for information. We are invited to look within ourselves and ask the question, “What am I really looking for?” What is the desire of my heart and soul?

The disciples then asked Jesus, “Where are you staying?” Again, as in John’s entire Gospel, the words are loaded and charged. The same Greek word for “remain” or “abide” that is used here is repeated elsewhere to describe the relationship that Jesus has with the Father and to which Jesus calls His followers.

Finally, Jesus issues a very powerful invitation: “Come and see!” They should experience for themselves who Jesus is and what He brings. Jesus warns us not to be taken in by outward appearances and superficial or literal interpretations of words and ideas.

Those who desire God must be seekers and questioners and must be willing to put into practice what the Lord teaches.