Ring…Ring…It’s for You!

January 17,2021 The Second Sunday Ordinary Time (Cycle B)

The tie in between today’s readings: Take the Call.

Psalm 40:1-10, 1 Samuel 3:3-10;19, 1 Corinthians 6:13-20, John 1:35-42

When the phone rings during the day, we have the luxury to decide whether to respond or let it go to voice mail. But in the middle of the night, it is a different matter. It’s serious! It’s urgent! We are compelled to pick up in an adrenaline spiked rush. In today’s reading in 1 Samuel 3:3-10, young Samuel gets a wakeup call directly from God Almighty. It is a matter of great importance! The Lord tells Samuel that He is finished with Eli. This high priest’s complacency and his sons playing fast and loose with the holy sacrifices had gone on long enough. It is time to make a change! Samuel will become God’s new prophet and teacher to call the nation back to Himself. After the Lord finishes, the sleepless youth lays back down, stunned by his heavenly calling and wondering what lies ahead.

Verse 19 in our reading tells us that Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with Him. Don’t skip over this line too quickly. Pursuit of holiness is an important part of a maturing Godly life. The Apostle Paul develops this theme in our epistle for today in 1 Corinthians 6:13-20. He condemns sexual immorality, a big problem in that city, and uses it to illustrate a connection between two worlds. The Apostle reveals that sex, even with a prostitute, is more than physical. The two are united on an unseen plain. Similarly, your union to Christ by faith is not a solely spiritual thing. St. Paul teaches that, having been bought with the price of Christ’s blood, you are joined with Him corporeally. Spirituality and physicality are intertwined. It is an application of the sacred space principle. Since we can’t go into it too deeply in this essay, a brief explanation is that the presence of God makes that place holy. All activity in that sacred space is governed by rules pertaining to sacredness. An example would be Moses having to take his sandals off during his encounter with the Lord at the burning bush because he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). The Holy Spirit indwells every believer in Jesus Christ. That makes you a sacred space! Of all sins, sexual immorality is the most devastating to sacred space because it is in the body. So, don’t walk; run away from it! Paul commands us to stop desecrating the temple of the Holy Spirit within us and focus on glorifying God in our body, instead.

Using Samuel as a case in point, we can see the outcome of holy living. In Samuel, we have a miracle baby, who was dedicated to the Lord as a Nazarite by his mother from birth. (You can find more information on Nazarites in the book of Numbers chapter 6:1-21). The only other person with a similar circumstance up until then was Samson. Their stories are dramatically different. Samson disregarded the seriousness of the Lord’s demands on his Nazarite life and followed his own sexual lusts. Due to Delilah’s trickery, he lost his long hair, which symbolized his sacred space connection to God and the Holy Spirit left him. His Philistine enemies blinded him and put him to hard labor. He later repented and the Lord gave him his strength back one last time to bring down the temple of Dagon. Samson had many curious God empowered exploits in his life, despite his waywardness, but you’d think that the Lord had a better plan for him in the end than suicide. Samuel, on the other hand, resisted temptation, became God’s prophet in Israel, commanded the respect of the nation, anointed kings, and died at a ripe old age. When standing before the Lord and comparing the two lives, it’s all the difference between “Well done.” and “Well…it’s done.” Pick the Samuel path. You’ll not only gain the benefits of a virtuous life, but just as important, it will be the pillar of credibility that you’ll need when telling others about Jesus and the gospel.

Curiously enough, our gospel reading in John 1:35-42 opens with the only other Nazarite miracle baby named in the Bible, John the Baptist. His mission now shifts from preparing the way of the Lord to pointing people to the Lamb of God. One of John’s disciples, Andrew, picks up on the message and after spending the day with the Master comes to believe that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Unable to contain himself, he introduces his brother to the Lord. His name is Simon. Jesus changes it to Peter. The rest is history. The Bible makes mention of another time when St. Andrew helped introduce others to Christ (John 12:22). Though he never made it into Jesus’s inner circle as Peter, James, and John did, Andrew never lost his motivation to proclaim the gospel message and bring people to the Lord. That takes humility with dedication and is a prime example for us today as we, ourselves, answer the call to spread the word of God. We do it through missionaries, of course. But the Lord has tasked each of us to our own mission field. Sounds intimidating? Maybe a little back to basics will help. Here is a good nuts and bolts guide from Catholic Missionary Disciples: https://catholicmissionarydisciples.com/news/the-content-of-the-kerygma-good-news-for-the-world.

The Body of Christ grows, and the world is changed one person at a time through evangelism. In our reading in Psalm 40:1-10, we can see a summary of the believer’s new life through the gospel. In the first five verses we can pick out the bedrock themes: God saved me, changed my life, and has given me His message. The following verses 6-10 are Messianic verses pertaining to Jesus and cited in Hebrews 10:4-10, but they can be overlaid onto any one of us who answers the call of Christ. Here, we are never more like the Lord than when we recognize the priority of obedience to God in holy living and, once again, the call to evangelism. It is said that the gospel is just one beggar telling another where to find bread. The impact of this message has been giving people hope for centuries. If there was a genealogy for God’s spiritual family, we would see a daisy chain reaching all the way back to the Apostles. You are an important link in this chain. So, answer God’s call on your life. Be a Samuel. Be an Andrew. Reach out your hand to a “yet to be” brother or sister in Christ. The rewards are eternal. You’ll be glad you did…good and faithful servant.

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