“Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2015/01/23 at 12:00 AM

When in college, one of our sons had a job working at the Governor’s Club in Chapel Hill. I remember his excitement when he called one evening to say he had just served Dean Smith, the retired, Hall of Fame basketball coach. Dean Smith is someone our son had heard about all his life, but this was the first time he ever had the chance to be close to him, this was the first time he seemed real – and he wanted to share that excitement with me.

That fond parenting memory came to mind when I simplistically tried to imagine, what it must have been like when John the Baptist said to Andrew, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (1) What an introduction! He could have said, “…let me introduce you to my cousin…” instead, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”(1)

When we hear such language…it may resonate with us, but most likely it does not, unless perhaps we grew up near a pasture. But for the Jewish people of 2,000 years ago, that image of a lamb was unmistakable. It was understood the lamb would be led to slaughter…the lamb would be sacrificed. So this introduction by itself, very easily could have brought fear to the disciples. Perhaps a more human reaction would have been to turn, and run the other way.

Then Jesus greeted them by saying, “What are you looking for?”(2) “What are you looking for?” (2) Isn’t that a great question? That is not an ice breaker question — that’s a question that goes right to the heart! Perhaps it is a question we should be asking ourselves? “What are we looking for?” Why do we get out of bed every morning & go to work, or to school, or do whatever we do each day?

Why do we come here? What are we looking for? Are we even prepared to answer that question?
…but notice the Disciples gave an equally curious answer. They said, “Where are you staying?”(3)

Today, when we want to gain knowledge or master a skill, we enroll in a college or university and earn a degree. But in the year 30 AD, you learned as an apprentice; you learned, as it were…at the foot of the master. So, just as Jesus learned to be a carpenter by practicing the skills taught to him by St. Joseph, the Disciples wanted to know where Jesus was staying so they could be with Him, learn from Him, become His apprentice.

The disciples reply reminds me of the story my father would tell about my mother they were first married. While my mom, who is of Irish decent, was an excellent cook in her day, she did not really know the good Italian recipes that my dad enjoyed so much. So, for the first few weeks of their marriage, mom went to my grandmother’s house to learn; to study at the foot of the master – as it were – just as the Disciples studied at the foot of THE Master. They spent time together, they got to know one another, love one another, they got to recognize each other’s voice.

…and that is what we hear in today’s reading from the First Book of Samuel. The Lord calls Samuel but he runs to Eli and says, “Here I am” (4) and Eli responds, “I did not call you, go back to sleep.”(5) …and that sequence repeats itself until Eli understands Samuel did not hear this voice in a dream, rather, it was the Lord calling. But Samuel was a young man, he did not know the Lord…he had not spent time at the foot of the Master…he did not recognize His voice.

Isn’t that exactly what happens to us? Our Lord calls, and like Samuel, we do not recognize His voice or we are reluctant to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” Perhaps we fear the price of this apprenticeship is too steep…perhaps we’re concerned about the cost of sitting, “… at the foot of the Master.” Perhaps we are afraid of the final exam when will have to answer, “What are we looking for?”

Of course, it is easy to delay answering that question if our relationship with God is distant. It is like having caller ID on our phone. When we know who is calling and we are not prepared to enter into the discussion, we may not always answer. We want those discussions to be on our terms, not the terms of the one reaching out to us. But — if we truly… “Behold, the Lamb of God”(1) …it would be impossible to reply, “…let me get back to you—later.”

Look at what Andrew does after spending only a few hours with Our Lord. He goes and finds his brother Simon and tells him, “…we have found the Messiah!”(6) He shared his excitement of meeting the Lamb of God. Because Andrew took the initiative, his brother Simon became Peter…the Rock upon which our Church is built, the one given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, the one granted the power to bind and to loose. Imagine the void of our Church if Andrew had not shared his excitement with his brother Simon. Andrew heard the Lord’s voice, he knew the Lord’s call.

Dean Smith is a man credited with leading the Tar Heels to 879 victories, but not a single one of these victories was of eternal consequence. So, let’s cherish the sacred moment we experience here at Mass when we… “Behold the Lamb of God” (1) who brought us the only victory that matters; the victory over sin and death! Embrace the words of Samuel, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”(7)

(1): Gospel of John; 1:36
(2): Gospel of John; 1:38
(3): Gospel of John; 1:38
(4): 1 Samuel; 3:4
(5): 1 Samuel; 3:5
(6): Gospel of John; 1: 41
(7) 1 Samuel; 3:10


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