Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

Reflection: Listen — God is calling you


When one of my favorite aunts was being complimented, she used to say, “Keep talking, I’m listening!”

Her line, if not her motivation, helps us enter into today’s Scriptures. From Samuel to Jesus and the disciples, it’s all about looking, listening and hearing, attitudes that lead to discovering who we are and are called to be. It’s all about vocation: seeking and listening.

Today’s first reading and the Gospel illustrate two dimensions of our response to God’s invitation in our lives. Young Samuel assumed that the only one who would call him was Eli, the priest to whom he was apprenticed. So, when Samuel heard a call, he hastened to Eli’s side. Happily, Eli was humble and schooled enough in the ways of God to instruct his apprentice to suspect that his calling was coming not from a teacher, but from God. A trustworthy spiritual director, Eli instructed Samuel to be attentive and to respond in openness to God’s will saying: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

In the biblical sense, listening is the equivalent of obeying. Mary echoed Samuel’s response with her unstinting offer: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be according to your word.” Later, Mary’s son memorialized a version of his mother’s offer as he taught us to say, “Thy will be done.” Each of those statements expresses the willingness to do whatever God might ask.

Today’s Gospel presents another dimension of the mystery of vocation. Here we encounter disciples of John the Baptist, people involved in a sincere search for God. John, their mentor, as humble as Eli, pointed his own disciples toward the one who gave him his purpose in life.

Immediately preceding this Gospel selection, John declared that Jesus, whom he said he did not know, was the one for whom he was preparing the way (John 1:26-35). Believing that, John freed his own disciples to go beyond him.

John and his disciples had the humility to seek more rather than rely on their own ideas or long-established answers. Like so many throughout history, they could appreciate the tradition they had inherited and still believe that more was to come. They were willing to risk the discomfort of exploring beyond the limits of their experience. True children of Abraham, they believed that God’s promise offered more than anything they had yet encountered. They harbored the intuition that their moment in history offered them new dimensions of faith — their perspective on everything else.

We might say that some 1,500 years before the birth of Ignatius of Loyola, these disciples exemplified an Ignatian approach to their vocation, seeking to fulfill their deepest desire. Ignatius taught that the deepest desire of the human heart is the desire for God. Jesuit Father Mark Thibodeaux describes Ignatius as a “praydreamer,” someone who allowed daydreams to lead him toward God’s will in his life. Thibodeaux says that Ignatius learned that “God [communicates the divine will] through great desires for faith, hope, and love that welled up inside his heart and soul. By daydreaming in the context of prayer, Ignatius was able to allow those great desires to surface. Doing so … would fire him up to have the necessary passion to perform these great works.”

Today’s responsorial psalm combines the themes of call and seeking to move us deeper in contemplation and our commitment to our vocation. The psalm refrain, “Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will” echoes the prayer Eli taught Samuel. The chosen verses of the psalm invite us to walk the path of growth in relationship with God. Speaking for so many of us who are seeking something more, the psalmist says, “I have waited for the Lord.”

Then, the psalm leads us beyond our own plans, hopes and expectations as it says, “Offering you wished not, but ears to hear your word.” That reminds us that no matter how hard we try, no matter our ideas about God’s demands, God does not ask us for oblations or penance. In truth, God wants much more than fasting or sacrifice. God’s desire is not satisfied until we say, “Behold, I come.”

St. Augustine prayed, “Our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee.” That explains that accepting God’s invitation and orienting our life around it is the path that will bring us peace and fulfillment beyond what we can imagine.

Living our vocation, responding to God’s ongoing invitations, leads us to become our deepest, truest selves. God’s call may come out of the blue or as a result of sincere seeking — both can happen, and sometimes at the same time.

That tells me we can learn from my Aunt Therese and pray, “Keep talking, I’m listening.”

Reading 1

(1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19)

Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD
where the ark of God was.
The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.”
Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.”
“I did not call you, ” Eli said. “Go back to sleep.”
So he went back to sleep.
Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli.
“Here I am, ” he said. “You called me.”
But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.”
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalms 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10)

R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I have waited, waited for the LORD,
and he stooped toward me and heard my cry.
And he put a new song into my mouth,
a hymn to our God.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Sacrifice or offering you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, “Behold I come.”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me,
to do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!”
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

Reading II

(1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20)

Brothers and sisters:
The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord,
and the Lord is for the body;
God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?
But whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.
Avoid immorality.
Every other sin a person commits is outside the body,
but the immoral person sins against his own body.
Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
For you have been purchased at a price.
Therefore, glorify God in your body.


(John 1:35-42)

John was standing with two of his disciples,
and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God.”
The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them,
“What are you looking for?”
They said to him, “Rabbi” — which translated means Teacher —
“Where are you staying?”
He said to them, “Come, and you will see.”
So they went and saw where Jesus was staying,
and they stayed with him that day.
It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter,
was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus.
He first found his own brother Simon and told him,
“We have found the Messiah” — which is translated Christ —.
Then he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said,
“You are Simon the son of John;
you will be called Cephas” — which is translated Peter.