John 1:42
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
Sometimes in the Gospel of John, but more common in the Gospel of Mark, there is a sense of urgency that shortens the story in what we hear. This urgency does not give us any details about how Peter received his new name, like we have another gospel stories.
This is the year for us to look at the Gospel of Mark primarily. But because the Gospel of Mark is shorter than Matthew or Luke, it gets supplemented by some sections from the Gospel of John. We have one of those this weekend, and for the next couple weekends as well.
But I want to focus today on this urgency of the Gospel. There is so much attention being paid in our society today to issues of crises that can only be solved by a return to the sanity of Christianity. But that is not something that is well received by those who are considered “elites” in our society. In fact, for some of those elites Christianity is considered a cause for the unrest that exists in our society. I do not understand their logic.
But that is where we are. The urgency of the Gospel, indicated by the brevity of the call of the apostles in our story today, should also get us to see the urgency of the Gospel for today. There is an urgency of the call to each one of you. You have all been called, even though you may not have heard the voice as Samuel did in our first reading. Samuel’s call was urgent and unique. And an important part of that first reading is the closing line: “the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.”
“…not permitting any word of his to be without effect.” That is a tremendous statement. Not… any… word! Think about the implications. It is not that God supported whatever Samuel said. Rather, it is that Samuel said only what God wanted. Now, I do not think that means that necessarily every word he said is meant here. I imagine he said “pass the bread please” and that would not necessarily be what is being spoken of here.
So when Samuel spoke in the name of God, he made sure he was only speaking what he trusted was from God. I wish all of us could do the same. I am serious! If we trained our minds to listen, and then respond to the call from God to holiness, our world would be… very different!
I think that is what God is preparing us for. From the Second Vatican Council we hear a call to the Universal Call to Holiness. Every individual is called to be holy as God is holy. If we take that seriously, there are things in our world that we will stay away from. St. Paul reminds us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. He does not shy away from telling people they must avoid immorality.
We cannot ignore this movement of the Holy Spirit away from the immorality of this present age. Because of age-appropriate concerns, I am not going to be more explicit about what immorality is. But we know the truth. We know the distortions that our society is telling us should be considered normal. They are not! We cannot allow these immoralities to go unchallenged!
We know the requirements of living a moral and holy life. There are many people who want to compromise on how we are called to live. But Samuel had to confront Eli over his treatment of his two sons. His sons were living an extremely immoral life. They were being abusive to people they were supposed to be leading in holiness (not unlike some of the problems in our own day, in our own church). Eli was not strong enough in his rebuke of his sons.
Because of this, Eli and his sons were removed from being priests. The urgency of today calls us out of the darkness of this present age. There is no time for us to wring our hands and just say how terrible all of this is. It is time for us to stand up and become apostles of holiness to our own day. Will this be costly to us? Yes!
I spoke last week about the royal call that we have been given because of our baptism. We are princes and princesses of the Kingdom of God! That means we are called to reveal the truth, to live the truth, to declare the truth to a world that does not want to hear it.
Put your own name in the first reading. Instead of Samuel, let it be your own name, let it be you who hear the call to holiness and respond so as to reveal the glory of God through you, who are princes and princesses of the Kingdom.
So we pray. Lord Jesus, you have called every one of us through our baptism to be apostles of holiness. We look around our world today and it is so easy to just keep quiet rather than speak up regarding what is true and holy. We have allowed others to dictate what truth is. There is only one truth and that comes to us through your most Sacred Heart.
Help us to pursue your truth and your holiness. Help us to live up to the gift of baptism that you have given us: to be princes and princesses in your Father’s Kingdom. Help us in our day not to back away from the truth and holiness this world needs and appears to have abandoned.
As you made the apostles strong through the power of your Holy Spirit, make us strong and willing to bear your truth to a world in need. Amen.