Second Sunday of Ordinary Time B- Homily by Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: 1 Sam 3:3b-10, 19; Ps 40: 2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; and John 1:34-42
Here I am Lord; I come to do your Will (Ps 40:8-9)
Dear friends in Christ,
In the light of the Bible readings of today I will like to reflect on the theme “Here I am Lord I come to do your will.” First of all this Psalms reminds me of my first Religious Profession in the 80s, in the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, (the Claretian Missionaries) ,where I received my ever would cherished earliest formation for my Priesthood.
We used this Psalm for the Liturgy of that day. And I was one of those selected to sing the responsorial Psalm 40- “Here I am Lord… I come to do your will….”2x). It’s a song of thanksgiving and supplication during a royal liturgy. A song that recognizes the need “to Fear the Lord”, “to obey the Lord,” “to listen to Him,” “to keep the hrwt (Torah). “ It is an invitation to respond generously to God’s call like the boy Samuel in today’s First Reading, in holiness of life, or like Jesus in the Gospel stories, which came completely not to do his will but the will of the Father who sent him. Jesus was holy, compassionate and humble to the cross, to the slaughter like a Lamb (of God). With these, he attracted the fellowship of other disciples like, Peter, James and John, who would continue this mission of the will of the Father (Jn, 1:35-42; 5:43 and Matt 12:50).
Often we may be tempted to rationalize, “how do we know the will of God.’? Let us leave this a moment for a class room debate and reflect deeply on the spiritual significance of the contexts of the texts of our worship today.
Today in the first Book of Samuel we hear the familiar story of the call Samuel, son of Elkanah and Hannah who lived in Temple helping Eli in the priestly duties. One night after Eli had gone to bed, while the light was still burning, and Samuel was sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant. Suddenly, the Lord called Samuel who answered “Here I am” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you call me.” “I did not call, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to sleep. This happened three times, Eli understood that the Lord called Samuel and instructed him next time the call came to say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”-$db[ [mv k hwhy rbd.
The participle here – “Listening” = is ready to hear”, “ready to receive divine message,” “ready to do the will of God” is very important. Just like our Mary in Luke 1:38 who said to the angel, “behold I am the handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your Words.”
Samuel did not say, “speak Lord I will hear you,” “I may hear you,” I might listen to you,” or “ I thought I had listen to you before,” Or “ I am sorry I am sleeping now, call me again when the day breaks, by then I must have been awake.” Samuel did not say, “Hello God, how can I help you.”!! He was also willing to learn the process of discernment from Eli a veteran priest!
The choice of Samuel, the rise of Samuel the disposition of Samuel, the willingness of Samuel , to obey, to keep the Torah, to do the will of God, like the Lamb of God is clearer when we go back to read 1 Samuel chapter 2:11-36 on the sins of the sons of Eli. In the temple the 2 son of Eli instead of praying, were stealing the portion of the boiling meat that were meant for the priest (1 Sam 2:11-17). Unlike Samuel, they abused women who were serving at the entrance of the tent of meeting (v22). Unlike Samuel, they were concern for their own profit and neither for the will of God nor for the common good of the community.
The Sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, unlike Samuel put arbitrariness in place of Torah, human selfishness in place of the will of God. The fact that they acted right there in the Temple, when the meat were still boiling, or took the raw meat went a long way to show the level of their greediness and the sins of the flesh, which weakened their response towards the greater good, namely the will of God.
Following Christ, like Peter, James and John, means staying with, being on the same page with Christ. It means giving Christ our heart and being. It means living a life of holiness. Like, Eli( 1 Sam 2:25), Paul said in the Second Reading to the troubling early Christian Corinthian community. He says, “Stay away from immorality--- for your bodies are the Lord, they are members of Christ—they are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.” Behaving otherwise keeps us away from pursuing or recognizing, like John, “The Lamb of God.”
These are the things that prevent us from doing the will God: sins against the Holy Spirit, acting in selfish way, acting in an arbitrary way, not listening to anybody, or the Torah, our parents the church except our desire and passions.
In the opening of the conclave in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI rightly identified these as part of the challenges facing us today. He calls it “Dictatorship of Relativism” (cf Light of the Word, pp.50-59). A situation where people like the evil sons of Eli would not recognized anything definitive and whose ultimate standard consist solely of satisfying their own egos and desires.
Friends, we are called to be pure. We are called to be like Samuel, ready to listen to the voice and impulses of the Holy Spirit speaking to us through our parents, through “Elis”, through the words of the Holy Scriptures, through our priests and pastors, through our neighbors, through creations, the sea, the moon, the stars, the mountains, oceans, trees, snow, through the Church, songs at Liturgy, the poor and the needy and through our lives of holiness.
May the Lord bless us with grace to always say, “Here I am Lord, I come to do your will.”
Peace be with you.