Today’s liturgy reminds us that God calls each one of us by our names to the life of holiness as he called Samuel in the first reading and the Apostles in the Gospel. The Church also encourages us to respond to this call with all our being (body and soul) as she reminds us that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The first reading recounts the dramatic call of Samuel, which also reminds us of our own call. “Samuel was lying down within the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” …
He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me”” (1Sam 3:4-5). After the third call, Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Like Samuel, so many young people don’t have clear vision of their vocation or career and they need Eli (the elderly ones) to help them have a proper discernment. Discernment in the religious context is the ability to have sharp perception of God’s will. As regards vocation, one may ask, “How do I know I am called either to marital life or to the priesthood or religious life? How do I know I am called to a particular vocation or profession?” The answers come in these forms: What is God’s will in my life? How do I find happiness and fulfilment in my life? What is the ultimate purpose of my existence?
While some of these questions creep into the mind, we must accompany them with prayers because in discernment process, we do not ask: “What do I want to do with my life?” Rather we ask, “God, what do you want from me or how do you want me to love you more?” There is no way we can hear the voice of God when we have no attitude of listening. Despite the internal and external noise that surround us, we must learn to listen to the voice of God like Samuel and to respond like him saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (v.10). In responding, we must be available for the service of God and his Church with our response, “Here I am Lord” (v.8).
The call of Samuel as a young boy is also a lesson for parents, guardians, elders and teachers to help young ones discern their vocation as Eli did to Samuel. The young ones should be able to talk or discuss with a priest, consecrated persons or spiritual director as regards questions bothering them on their vocation to priestly and religious life, or seek counsel from those in specific professions they admire. Like the two disciples of John that followed Jesus in the Gospel, Christ is asking us today, “What do you seek?” (Jn 1:38). One of the disciples was Andrew, who brought his brother Simon Peter to Jesus. This Gospel is one of the only three passages that tells us of the Apostle Andrew.
Each time we encounter Andrew in the Gospel, he is bringing either someone or a good thing to Jesus. In today’s Gospel, he brought his brother to Jesus, in John 6:8, he brought the young boy with five loaves of bread and two fish to Jesus and in John 12:20-22, he brought some foreigners to Jesus, a delegation of Greeks, who were non-Jews so that Jesus can explain to them the condition of becoming disciples. These are the appearances of Andrew in John’s gospel. Simon, whose name was changed to Peter was the brother to Andrew. For an ancient Israelite, a change of name is seen as a change of relationship with God. We have examples of Abram to Abraham, Jacob to Israel and today we have Simon to Peter.
This tradition also has some influences in the Church as regard the sacrament of baptism whereby we are given new names as we are commissioned to live a new life in Christ, a life of holiness. The new life in Christ challenges our response to God’s call. When the disciples of John asked Jesus, “Where are you staying?” (Jn 1:38). Jesus gave an invitation to them saying, “Come and see” (v.39). When Andrew saw, he said to Peter, “We have found the Messiah” (v.41) and he brought him to Jesus. Similarly, when the Samaritan woman encountered Jesus, she gave an invitation to her people to come and see the Lord (John 4:29). These are various invitation to follow Christ, which requires daily response with our whole being.
In view of the above, St. Paul in the second reading reminds us of the dignity of the human body. He said, “Our body is not meant for immorality, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and so, we must shun immorality” (1Cor. 6:19). What Paul experienced in his days with the people of Corinth is still much with us today. Paul is saying immorality or sin like fornication are strong hindrances in responding to the call to holiness. This sin makes us less effective as Christians, brings down our spirituality and hinders our relationship with God.
He is not alluding that sexual intercourse is bad or evil; neither is the Church saying so. It is good and beautiful, and the holiness of it comes when it is realized between legally married couples. Anything outside this is of the evil one. In a nutshell, we are called to a life of holiness and our holiness should be contagious enough to bring others to Christ like Andrew and help them respond to God’s call like Eli did. May God give us the grace to respond like the psalmist saying, “See, I have come Lord, to do your will” (Ps 40:8).