By: Fr. Scott Karnik
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 14)
This is the anatomy of a call from God: God calls. We hear. We respond, “Here I am.” And then we run to the one who has called us and say “Here I am. You called me.” This is the heart of today’s reading from First Samuel. God calls Samuel to be a priest and a prophet. Samuel will be such a great prophet and priest that God will not permit any word of Samuel to be without effect. And the Lord was with Samuel. And Samuel was willingly obedient to God. God chooses Samuel for that very reason.
God is calling us too. God certainly calls obedient and willing men and women to serve faithfully as priests, nuns, and laity. Read the first three chapters of the First Book of Samuel. You will see a married couple, especially the woman, pray to have children, especially a first-born son, whom she promises to give to the Lord in the Temple. Her name is Hannah and the baby’s name is Samuel. You will also see that God grants her prayer. Hannah celebrates the birth of her son and she keeps her promise and delivers Samuel to the priest at the Temple. Samuel will be an obedient priest and prophet. God needs him to be exactly that. So the key elements in the story in the first three chapters of First Samuel are a faithful and loving married man and woman, who want to have babies. Another key element is God, to whom this couple, especially Hannah, prays to for that to happen. Those are also key elements that are needed today for God’s call to us to do something that is desperately needed-to build a culture of life in this country to replace the culture of death. We all have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on that. And the first step is our response to God’s call: “Here I am.” Faithful, loving husbands and wives who have a deep relationship with Jesus Christ are staples in a culture of life. Couples are needed to speak up for unborn babies, to stand up against abortion, and to point out a better way, to the sacrament of holy marriage. And we all must open up our hearts to help heal those women who were seduced by abortion’s call and who were ravaged by the procedure. There is another key element that is needed in a culture of life. It is a faithful, holy priesthood. If you read the first three chapters of First Samuel you will see that a faithful, holy priesthood is missing. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were extremely sinful while carrying out the office of the priesthood. Eli reprimanded them, gently. They refused to hear. They continued to sin. And they corrupted the Temple sacrifice, the very instrument needed to atone for sins. Samuel is being called to be a great and holy prophet and priest. If you notice in today’s reading, God ignores Eli, the chief priest. God calls Samuel directly and Samuel responds obediently, three times. God goes directly to Samuel, a mere boy, while the chief priest Eli, who is nearly blind, sleeps. What country does Eli’s condition remind you of today? The key elements needed to build a culture of life and to reverse the culture of death are faithful, holy, loving men and women who marry, and stay married, and who have children, and want to have children. What is also needed is a faithful, holy priesthood, and a faithful, God-fearing, holy, and vibrant church that is a moral bulwark against the scourge of abortion, this one. That is our call, given to us by God through Pope Saint John Paul the Second. It is necessary. It is necessary because God gives to each of us a specific mission. Samuel’s was to be the holy, obedient prophet and priest that Israel so desperately needed. He will anoint Israel’s greatest king, King David. Jesus’s mission was to be the “Lamb of God.” Jesus responded and obeyed. We have salvation available to us because of Him. God works through people, you and me, to build His Kingdom here on earth. A culture of death squelches God’s work before it even begins. And we are destined to succeed in this mission of building a culture of life because God is with us through His Son Jesus Christ. In the gospel, Jesus looks intently, penetratingly at Simon. Jesus tells Simon that “you will be called Cephas-which is translated Peter (rock). Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Lord changes Simon’s destiny. And Peter became the first pope of this one church that Jesus established to worship Him and to build God’s Kingdom.
The first step to all of this is, of course, prayer. But that’s not enough. We must pray so that we are willing to be changed. May we respond like Samuel and say “Here I am. You called me.”