John 1: 35-42
Fr. John Tran
The disciples of John the Baptist had an advantage over Samuel. Samuel was young and inexperienced, both in life and in understanding of God. He had not become very experienced in the ways of the world; he had not yet begun to study the Law and the Prophets in earnest. But one quality about Samuel is just as developed as it was with John’s disciples: Samuel, like Andrew and his companion, were attuned to God; they were listening for his voice, maybe less consciously with Samuel, and more so with the disciples of John. But the point is - the voice of God got through and was heard.
We can see the confusion Samuel experience when the Lord made his first overture to him. He was able to hear the voice, but he did not know who was calling him. But when his mentor told him to answer, “Yes, Lord, your servant is listening,” Samuel did not draw back from the call. We know that Samuel grew both is fervor toward God, as well as in the resoluteness with which he did whatever the Lord asked of him.
John’s disciples, Andrew and his companion, had been followers of the Baptist for some time. They were schooled in the Law and the Prophets, and had deepened their faith in their time with John. They had been attuned to John’s message that they were to look for another who was the messiah. John almost casually remarks “Behold, the Lamb of God.” That is all it took for the disciples to follow Jesus and ask where he lived. Jesus told them to follow him, and the rest is history.
In some ways we are like Samuel because most of us have received our first call as infants in Baptism. In this sense we have to grow in our knowledge of God’s teaching and in recognizing his voice. In other ways we are like John's disciples in that we are schooled from a young age in the ways of God; perhaps some of us were baptized at an older age and already had some understanding. Nonetheless, none of us had the advantage of walking physically with Jesus and listening to his voice. We must rely on hearing God speak to us in the quiet of our hearts, in the depth of our soul.
There’s a beautiful instance of Jesus’ inviting style in the book, The Horse and his Boy, one of C. S. Lewis’ stories of Narnia. Aslan, the great lion, is the Christ-figure in those stories. The lad Shasta is walking on a steep mountain pass in the middle of a dense night fog. He senses a huge presence walking beside him. Shasta finally gets the courage to whisper out, “Who are you?” The resonant golden voice of Asian answers, “One who has waited long for you to speak.” That’s Jesus’ style: “Come and see.” He invites us even if we only hear with the voice of our hearts.
No matter when we recognize God’s voice, it is not a one time occurrence. God is the inner source of our life; it is he who gives life to all we do. Our inner life is not found in the skies, outside of our selves. Our life in God is not abstract, but rather made up of the hundreds of daily encounters and our inner dealings with them. We cannot listen for the call without our inner self, nor can we respond without acting in his name. As with Samuel and John’s disciples, once we hear and answer the voice of God, our life will be changed from our self seeking ways, and be guided by his voice. When did you last hear God’s voice calling to you? How did you answer? The Lord waits a long time for us to speak to him.