Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wednesday word, 16 Jan 2008

First Wednesday of the Year (16 Jan 2008) 1Sm 3. 1-10,19-20; Ps 40; Mk 1. 29-39
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

The reading from First Samuel is read at Sunday mass once in the 3-year cycle of Sunday scripture texts. On that Sunday it’s paired with a selection from the gospel of John, in which disciples follow Jesus out of curiosity as well as faith in John the Baptizer, who pointed out Jesus as the Lamb of God. Prophets make clear what our vision may miss.

During the time young Samuel was minister to the Lord under Eli, a revelation of the Lord was uncommon and vision infrequent. Nor was it the time of prophets, who pointed the way. This all-too-familiar reading reminds us that each person is responsible to be alert to how God communicates to a person and to respond.

This faith-alertness is religious obedience. Like Samuel we may not recognize God communicating right away. The reading, with its youngster and elder, in a relationship we may describe as an internship or apprenticeship, has an even more important dynamic: trust, because faith often collides with human experience.

The feeling of being chosen was so clear to young Samuel that he could only interpret it one way, by his experience: someone called him. Experience also told Samuel it could only have been Eli nearby.

Eli was not certain of things right away. Only later Eli understood that the Lord was calling the youth. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

Faith is not limited to listening, although God can and does use the voice of others to communicate. Faithful attention is a disposition: we dispose ourselves to God, who creates us in love with a purpose. Our purpose is both communal and personal. We are all grafted on to our messiah, Jesus. Each of us has a unique role to play in the church. As our circumstances change so may our role in the church be reshaped. At each moment faith is about disposing ourselves so we may discover more clearly the purpose for which Jesus created us.
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