1. I Samuel 3, 3-10 and 19
Lord called Samuel, not once but four times. Three times he went to Eli
the high priest. I did not call you, Eli said. The young
man begins by running into a dead end. Frustration? A reading with dead time?
All readings can sound like dead time when the reader doesn’t know what is coming. I hear
the word ‘call’ eleven times. When I say each of them I can make them sound monotonous or miraculous,
like sunshine after a brief rain.
- If I take my time I will show that Samuel feels no frustration.
There was a voice. Here I am. You called me.
Now all that is left is to find out who said it. My voice of the Lord will not be the same voice
as that of Eli, though I make both kind and direct.
- Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling
the youth. Here comes the interpretation. And Eli teaches the young man
a very basic prayer: Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
- I should let the
story of the young Samuel flow in its simplicity. But I will not rush the four calls, because they are
a way of indicating a development in the boy’s spiritual sensitivity. When interpretation takes place,
I will give a sense of Samuel’s coming to maturity, because at that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord.
- When I speak the
awakening words of God, Samuel, Samuel, I will speak like the gentle mother who knows how to awaken her loved
ones from slumber.
- Climax: When Eli understood what was happening.
- Message for our assembly: It is
no surprise that Samuel was in the temple of the Lord. We can also learn to listen carefully
to God in this house of prayer.
- I will challenge myself: to repeat the prayer of Samuel in such a way that the people listening
will adopt it as their own.
2. I Corinthians 6, 13-15 and 17-20
apostle is admonishing the new Christians about proper social conduct and bodily integrity. The
body is not for immorality but for the Lord. The word ‘immorality’ appears three times.
I have heard veteran lectors trip over it and say ‘immortality’ instead, thus killing the meaning of the
whole reading. After I have read the phrase ten or more times I will probably avoid tripping.
- When I hear that
word ‘body’ I think immediately of carnal knowledge and the rest. The apostle has that in mind
here, but he also refers to the entire social fabric of the community. He says, Whoever is joined
to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him. He also says, You are members of Christ.
every word of censure here I also hear two of exhortation, and I will repeat them in the same spirit. For
example, Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you. Then there are appeals to
Christ: God raised the Lord. You have been purchased at a price.
passage is excerpted from a chapter full of specific examples of personal and social conduct, but the Lectionary commission
saw fit to remove all those references. That makes it more challenging for me. I might
look for concreteness in the appeals to our calling as followers of Christ.
- Central point: The immoral man sins against his own
body. Why? Because God has destined us for a greater glory. Everything
else in the passage points to this insight.
- The message for our assembly: Today we listen to three passages that have to do with our
calling. Here the apostle reminds the Corinthians that you are not your own.
will challenge myself: To make this abstract reading as concrete as I can, especially in my appeal to our calling as the body
John 1, 35-42
- I hear a narrative of the calling of the first disciples. It
is different from the others because there is neither lakeside nor fishermen. Now they are disciples of
John the Baptist. As he watched Jesus walk by he said, Behold the lamb of God.
John says, Behold the lamb of God, I hear a new name for Jesus that contrasts with the hellfire style of
John. I want to say it with meaning, with emphasis on ‘lamb,’ so that my listeners can take
this meaning into the rite of communion.
- The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.
Twice I hear the words they heard and followed. We haven’t yet reached
belief, but we take the first steps.
- The attention of this passage, and probably the attention
of these disciples, is not on the message but on the man. Rabbi, where are you staying?
And later, We have found the Messiah.
- Climax: Come and
you will see. These words are those that Jesus could use with us, too.
- Message for our assembly: Jesus did not
force himself on anyone back then, and certainly not right now.
- I will challenge myself: To evoke in the words
of the disciples the sense of wonder and fulfillment of Andrew: We have found the Messiah.
Word to Eucharist: We have come forward, like John's disciples, at the
Lord's call. It remains for us to see, not as anonymous places in a waiting line but as long-time searchers.