There is often a bridge between the first reading and the gospel at our liturgy. This weekend is no exception. In the reading from 1st Samuel we have the delightful story of the young and obedient Samuel and his wise and patient mentor, the priest Eli, whose mother gave him into Eli’s care at a young age, dedicating him to the Lord in thanksgiving for her prayer for a son being heard and granted.
The Lord calls Samuel three times, but he thinks it is Eli calling him. After the third time, Eli tells him to respond to the call by saying “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” The text goes on to say, “Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.”
Some of the gospel readings we heard during Advent precede the passage from John’s gospel in today’s liturgy. He calls himself a “voice crying out in the wilderness to make ready the way for the Lord.” He says he baptizes with water for repentance, but one we do not recognize is among us who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He denies being the Messiah, or Elijah, or the prophet. Today’s gospel takes place right around the same time. John tells two of his disciples upon seeing Jesus approaching “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” They (the two) heard and followed Jesus.
Jesus asks them “What are you looking for?” They answer with a question of their own “where are you staying?” Jesus says to them “Come, and you will see.” Andrew, one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus first went and found his brother Simon telling him “We have found the Messiah.” When Andrew brings Simon to Jesus, the Lord says, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
So there is a lot of calling happening in both these readings. God calls Samuel (who thinks it’s Eli calling him). John calls his disciples to recognize who Jesus is. Those two call on Jesus to tell them where he is staying, and Jesus calls them to come and see. Finally, Jesus calls Simon by the name Cephas which in Aramaic means the Rock.
Samuel was sleeping in the temple, in the presence of the ark of God when he was called. Can this be analogous to resting in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, or just in silent listening prayer. Might we hear God’s call then and there too? How will we respond?