After the festive period of the birth, epiphany and baptism of Our Lord, it is the complete mystery of Christ that is focussed on in the Ordinary Time of the liturgical calendar. On this Second Sunday, the Readings portray the ever-readiness of Christ’s first three disciples and highlight a comparable personage of the Old Testament.

Samuel is that figure who, a millennium before the coming of Jesus, played a key role in Israel (cf. First Reading, 1 Sam 3: 3-10, 19). Born in answer to his mother Hannah’s incessant prayers and dedicated by her to God, Samuel worked under Eli the high priest. One night, he heard a voice calling his name. He thought it was Eli but it wasn’t. After this had happened three times, Eli, realising that it was the voice of the Lord, taught Samuel to say: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”

Spiritually mature that he was, young Samuel answered God’s call without ifs or buts. As a prophet, he facilitated the transition from pre-monarchical period to the monarchy under Saul, king of Israel, and then again from Saul to David. He guarded the religious heritage and identity of Israel during the country’s defeat and occupation by the Philistines. Samuel was a priest, prophet and judge rolled into one, a key figure in state affairs.

A parallel figure in the New Testament is Simon, whom Jesus named Cephas, meaning Peter, for upon this ‘rock’ He would build His Church. The exact moment of their meeting is the interesting subject of today’s Gospel text (Jn 1: 35-42). Peter answered Jesus’ call, which had come to him through his brother Andrew. The latter and John the Evangelist were the first two disciples to whom John the Baptist showed the “Lamb of God”. For sure, the duo was drawn into a sublime interaction with Jesus, going by the fact that they met from the ‘tenth hour’ (4.00 pm) until late, so they even stayed with Him that night!

Look at how none of these individuals dreamt of acquiring power and influence, but of building God’s kingdom. John the Baptist did not project himself as the Lamb of God but humbly introduced Jesus as such. He was an honourable man who suffered a humiliating death by decapitation. That is how men and women of honour and merit are treated by the world, whereas those with nuisance value find their way into the corridors of power and many who flout moral and ethical principles are pampered by family and friends.

To such misguided elements, St Paul in the Second Reading (1 Cor 6: 13-15, 17-20) is loud and clear: ‘Shun immorality’. Although it is individual sexual immorality that the Apostle of the Gentiles is railing against here, we could stretch his censure to those devoid of principles, so much so that the writer had earlier used the expression ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’ with reference to the community (3: 16).

Since our concern must be to know what the Lord wants of us, readiness to serve Him cannot be on our terms. We ought to delight in His law in the depth of our hearts, and like Samuel, listen to His voice; or like Andrew, John and Peter, be ready to follow in His footsteps. But none of this is as easy as it seems, particularly when we are bent on doing our own little thing; rather, it calls for total commitment, self-effacement and self-denial; it demands of us readiness to face misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, vendetta, abuse and violence, for God’s sake.

On the other hand, the joy of knowing the Lord and serving Him makes us strong and happy. It prompts us pass on that joy to others; no wonder the Baptist introduced Jesus to his disciples, and Andrew quickly lets Peter in on his secret. What about you and me, what do we do?

Are we ready to serve, or are we entrenched in our petty affairs? Samuel and Peter remind us that we too have a vocation. In fact, the world would have been a better place if every parent taught his child to say, as Eli did: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.” With this prayer always on our lips, slowly we would begin to realise that nothing else really matters in life except our readiness to serve Him.