Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we gather together and we listened to the Word of God in the Scriptures, telling us all about the importance and the meaning of discipleship, meaning what it means to become a follower of God. We heard this through the calling of Samuel, prophet and judge of Israel, when he was still very young, and then also the calling of the first Apostles, at the side of the River Jordan.
In the first reading today, from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the moment when God called Samuel in his sleep, which the young Samuel misinterpreted as Eli, his guardian, calling him to his place. This happened three times, as Eli denied calling upon Samuel and asked him to go back to sleep, before Eli realised that it was God Who called the young boy.
At that time, the people of Israel had wandered off from the path which God had shown them, and instead, they followed the path of the pagan worship of idols, following the customs of their neighbours, and neglecting the obligation to follow and obey the Lord. And even the leaders of the people became corrupt and wayward. Hosni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli the judge led the people as priests, but they disobeyed the Lord and committed wicked corrupt acts before Him.
That was when God sent His servant, Samuel, whom He had chosen from among His people. He set him aside to be the instrument through whom He would liberate His people Israel from their sinfulness and wicked ways. And Samuel was dedicated to the Lord from a very young age, and today in our first reading, we heard of the moment when the Lord called him and began to work His wonders through him.
Samuel might be very young at that time, and he was truly innocent and pure, not knowing Who was the One calling him in the middle of the night. Yet, he was obedient to Eli, his guardian, and listened to him. And he responded to the Lord’s call, listening to whatever He told him. God spoke to Samuel about His anger at the current state of Israel, and foretold that Eli and his two sons would meet terrible end for their disobedience, and that Samuel would be the one through whom God would work His wonders.
Ever since then, God worked wonders through Samuel, who went about from place to place, delivering God’s will and His words to many people, calling them to repent from their sinful ways, and even opposing the will of the people of Israel at times, because they refused to obey God and were rebellious. God was with him, and he worked many good wonders, even as he opposed the king of Israel, Saul, when he disobeyed God and chose to follow his own ways rather than God’s ways.
Samuel was called by God to a mission and to a vocation that is neither easy nor pleasant. He was not called to a leisure and enjoyable life, but to one that is filled with constant challenges and difficulties. He had to endure the scorn of many people, each with their own demands and desires, and their constant rebelliousness and stubbornness against God’s will, and he had to still love them and care for them, as the judge and leader of the people.
In the same manner, God called His disciples in the Gospel passage we listened to today. He called His first Apostles at the banks of the River Jordan just right after He was baptised by St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist was another one of God’s tireless servants, who devoted himself wholly to do God’s will, baptising many people and calling them to repentance, and even stood up against the Pharisees and king Herod, rebuking them for their wickedness.
St. John the Baptist revealed to all of his disciples that Jesus is the Messiah and the Lamb of God, long awaited and long prophesied by the prophets. And some of those disciples followed Jesus, including St. Andrew the Apostle, first among Christ’s Apostles, who then called his brethren, all fellow fishermen of Galilee. They listened to the Lord Jesus calling them as He made His way along the river banks, and they followed Him.
Similar as the calling made by the Lord to the prophet Samuel in the Old Testament, the Apostles in the New Testament were called not to a life of pleasure or to a glamorous and glorious vocation. They were called to follow a King, but He is a King not like the other kings and rulers of the world, for they were called mostly from among the poor, and after their calling they remain poor, and even they have to leave behind everything they had in order to follow the Lord.
They were called to a most noble mission of all, one that is filled with challenges and tribulations. Yet, it was thanks to the hard work of the Apostles that there had been so many souls, countless millions upon millions, billions upon billions of souls, who have received the assurance of God’s salvation, by their preaching and by their loving actions, which they then passed on to their successors. Ultimately, their mission as the ‘fishers of men’ continues today through the Church that God has established, through our bishops and priests, even today.
And what is our calling as Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is the same! It is the same calling which God had made to us, as He had called Samuel and then His disciples in the past. When He called them, ‘Follow Me!’, Samuel answered with faith, and listened intently, and followed Him to wherever He led him to do His wonderful works. The Apostles and the other disciples of the Lord also followed Him, and went with Him wherever He went. Are we able to do the same as well?
Many of them had to endure rejection and persecution, the same one that had happened to their Lord and Master. They had to face opposition, even from loved ones and relatives, and many of them were persecuted, imprisoned, and many had to lay down their lives for the sake of the Lord and for their faith in Him. Yet, they did so willingly, never once giving up on their faith, and their dedication was the reason why all of us have the faith as we have it today.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we listened to the Scripture and remembering how Samuel the prophet and the disciples of Our Lord have given their lives to the Lord, committing themselves to Him, let us all reflect on our own lives, and how each and every one of us can devote ourselves to Him in our own way, and giving to Him whatever we can give Him in our own capacities.
Let us all renew our faith to Him, and let us rededicate our efforts, that from now on, all of the things we say and do, we do not do them for ourselves, but rather, first of all, for the sake of God, and for the sake of His people. Let us all be examples for one another, and helping one another in faith, that each and every one of us, eventually, will be able to find our way to the Lord and receive worthily His saving grace, the grace of eternal life and glory. May God bless us all. Amen.