Calling and Living
  • Sunday, January 15, 2012

2 Epiphany

1 Sam. 3:1-10 (11-20) • Ps. 139:1-5, 12-17
1 Cor. 6: 12-20 • John 1:43-51

Learn from the fig tree. Nathanael is sitting under the tree sipping wine at 1:45 in the afternoon, the first indication that he is in need of some renewal or restraint or awakening. His friend Philip comes along and says that he has found the One about whom Moses and all the prophets wrote. Not having anything else to do, Nathanael lumbers toward his Lord, though not knowing it. When Jesus greets Nathanael, he does so in a way suggesting he already knows Nathanael. How can that be? They’ve never met.

“Where did you get to know me?” Nathanael asks. Jesus says, “When you were leaning against the fig tree cracking nuts and drinking wine, when you were dreamily thinking about nets and fish and fights and your loquacious wife, I saw you.” There is simply no getting around it, Nathanael, “You did not choose me, but rather I chose you.” Oh the miracles of the Most High God always going to the front of the line, always before us, drawing us on and out of ourselves.

The prevenient grace of God is at work too in the calling of the young boy Samuel. We first notice that the word of the Lord was rare in those days, indicating not only that it was seldom heard but also that its paucity made it pretiosus, of great value. Eli’s near blindness gives flesh to the phrase “visions were not widespread.” Still, amidst this silence and darkness, we are told “the lamp of God had not yet gone out.” So the reader senses a great possibility before the sacred visitations begin.

As Samuel goes to his rest he hears a voice saying “Samuel! Samuel!” In the second visit he hears “Samuel!” In the third his name is not mentioned, suggesting that the call is fading. It is only after Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy that Samuel opens his ears fully. Don’t we all need to help each other in this regard? It might be the Lord urging, prompting, dancing down the days of your life. The last visitation is decisive. Not only does the address include the double use of Samuel’s name, as at the first calling, but a sense of real presence is added. “Now the Lord came and stood there.” So calling is about hearing the voice that is right there. Listening?

Hear this trifle from the Roman playwright Terence: “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi!” The gods can do it, but not the oxen! One of the great things about being a Christian is that we can do anything we want. Omnia nobis licent! He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. A brief experiment in this total freedom would, however, present what today we call “challenges” or “opportunities.” In other words, a bit of self-destructive demise and general social chaos might awaken us to some questions. Free from what? Free for what?

In old language, we have been freed from sin, the flesh, and the devil, a trinity of death. We have been freed for a life in Christ, which St. Paul describes in this way: “Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit!” With a searing conviction he says, “You have been bought with a price.” The price: rejection, ridicule, betrayal, beating, hanging from a tree for the devouring birds of the air. When related to “calling,” we realize that this price was for the whole of us, body, mind, and soul. And because the Spirit of the Risen One is tented in our bodies, we cannot avoid the question of bodily goodness.

Look It Up
Read John 1:48. Love sees you.

Think About It
Awaken to the sound of your name. Be opened.

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