Second Sunday of Ordinary Time
Sunday, January 17, 2021
Holy Ghost Church – 5:00 Mass
1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19, 16; Psalm 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Corinthians 6:13c-15a, 17-20; John 1:35-42
In today’s first reading and Gospel reading we hear stories of the Lord calling men to serve him. In the first reading the prophet Samuel is called while he’s sleeping, sleeping in the Temple.
We learn that God called Samuel three times and each time he heard the call, Samuel went to Eli, thinking he had called him. On the third time, Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling Samuel and, as we just heard, told him that if called again he should reply “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Samuel did what Eli told him to do and we learn that as he grew up the Lord was with him. God blessed the young Samuel by making him the first of the prophets after Moses to speak God’s word to his people.
Our gospel reading today is a story of another call, the call of Andrew and his brother Simon Peter. Andrew and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist follow Jesus after John proclaims him to be the Lamb of God. They spend the day with him and then Andrew goes to find his brother to bring him to the Lord.
Both of these stories help us to see that it is God who CALLS us to serve him in our vocation. Discerning our vocation, be it marriage, the priesthood, or some other way we may use our lives to serve God, always comes about as a personal CALL from Our Lord himself.
These stories also speak to the importance of having a TRUSTED ADVISOR to help us discern when God calls us and to better understand his will for our lives.
In the case of Samuel, Eli the high priest was that advisor. Samuel had been entrusted to Eli’s care at a very young age by his mother Hannah, who gave him back to God after having miraculously conceived him late in life. It was Eli who realized that it was the Lord who was calling Samuel. He told him to reply to the Lord if he called again that he was his servant and that he was listening.
In today’s Gospel, Peter’s trusted advisor was his brother Andrew. I can just imagine how excited Andrew must have been to tell Simon that he had found the Messiah!
He must have been bubbling over with enthusiasm after having spent the day with Jesus and may have said something like, Come on Simon, RIGHT NOW! Come with me to meet Jesus!
Maybe Simon rolled his eyes, humored him and said something like “OK, I’ll go if it makes you happy. I’ll go meet this Jesus fellow.” It was the least he could do for his older brother.
Here’s the lesson I’ve learned from these readings. Both Samuel and Peter had someone in their life who helped them discern a call from the Lord. In Samuel’s case it was his mentor Eli and in Peter’s case it was his older brother Andrew. It’s entirely possible that in both cases these two great men of God might have missed God’s call if they had not had someone to help them discern it.
Let me ask you an important question. Who do you have who helps you discern the Holy Spirit’s movement in your life? Seriously, do you have someone you trust, someone who is mature in the faith, who helps you to navigate your spiritual journey and discern how God may be calling you to serve him? Who is your Eli or your Andrew?
Finding a good spiritual advisor is so helpful for our growth in the spiritual life. Someone you can share your thoughts and concerns with in full confidence. Someone you can trust to listen and give good advice when you think you are being led in a certain direction. Someone who can challenge you to step out of your comfort zone to prayerfully consider your options and help you discern which of them might be the most pleasing to God, bringing you true joy in years to come.
Last year when I began to think the Lord was calling me back to Holy Ghost to serve as a deacon, I wanted to be sure that it was his will that I do so. I am blessed to have a wonderful wife, a great spiritual director, and others I trust who I can confide in. When it seemed to me that the call to come back to Holy Ghost was genuine, I sought the advice of these trusted advisors to help me confirm it. This was a big step for me and I wanted to be sure it was what God intended.
The first thing I did was talk about it with my wife Christine. She is my first vocation and she knows me better than anyone else does. While I don’t always listen to her, I do trust her implicitly. She gives great advice and often provides me with a perspective I hadn’t considered.
After getting the green light from Christine, I discussed the possibility of returning to Holy Ghost with Fr. Bill and with my pastor at Our Lady of Fatima, as well as the director of the diaconate for the diocese. Each of these men challenged me to prayerfully consider this and they each ultimately encouraged me to make the move if I believed it was God’s will.
Finally, I spoke with my spiritual director, another priest whom I greatly respect and who knows me quite well from our monthly meetings. He offered me his thoughts, which helped me to weigh my options.
After discussing my possible move back to Holy Ghost these trusted advisors and one of my close friends, I decided that it was, indeed, God’s will for me to return here. And after just six weeks back, I can assure you I know that this was clearly the right decision for me.
While it can be difficult to find the right person to act as your spiritual advisor, it is definitely worth the effort when you find someone you connect with. When you do find that person, I recommend meeting with him or her monthly.
I always recommend a priest if you can find one who is comfortable serving as your advisor, especially because it provides a great opportunity to make a monthly confession as part of your meeting. It certainly doesn’t have to be a priest, it might be a deacon, a religious sister, or even an acquaintance who has been referred by a friend, someone who takes their faith seriously.
The other thing about the person you select as a spiritual advisor is that they don’t always work out; they’re not always a good match. That’s OK, find someone else! Priests also get moved and assume new responsibilities, so you may find that you need to seek a different advisor because either his or your circumstances change. For various reasons, my current spiritual director is my fourth since entering formation in 2011 to become a deacon.
Just like Samuel had Eli, and Peter had Andrew, we too need someone who can help us discern God’s call. If you don’t have someone now, I would like to encourage you to think about finding an advisor you can trust and schedule your first meeting with him.
With Lent right around the corner, it seems to me that spiritual direction would be a fantastic discipline to begin as part of this year’s Lenten journey. A good advisor is worth his or her weight in gold and the Holy Spirit will certainly use this person to help you know and embrace God’s will. It just may take your spiritual life to a whole new level.
So here’s your homework assignment. Yes, you are all getting homework.
Between now and the beginning of Lent I want you to pray about who might be a good match for you as your spiritual advisor. I want you to SERIOUSLY contemplate it. Then I want you to approach this person to ask if they would consider meeting with you monthly. You don’t need an agenda for that meeting, just a willingness to be open to hearing God speak to you through him or her.
Trust the Holy Spirit to take it from there.
God bless you.