READING: 1 Samuel 3:3-10,19; Psalm 40:2,4,7-10; 1 Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20; John 1:35-42
SERMON : "Called By Name"
Deacon Sil Galvan
The following material, geared to the Roman Catholic variation
of the Revised Common Lectionary is by Deacon Sil Galvan and
comes from his website Deacon Sil's Homiletic Resources.
Deacon Sil provides his own reflections, prayers, and homilies
each week - along close to 350 with direct links to the works of
others, most of these being RCL sites and resources. Deacon
Sil's site is by subscription. Free trial subscriptions are
available. Permission is freely granted for use of the
following, in whole or in part, in oral presentations. For
permission to use in writing, please contact the human
intermediary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Reading (1 Samuel 3: 3-10,19)
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. The
Lord called to Samuel, who answered, "Here I am." He ran to Eli and said,
"Here I am. You called me." "I did not call you," Eli said. "Go back to sleep."
So he went back to sleep. Again the Lord called Samuel, who rose and went to
Eli. "Here I am," he said. "You called me." But he answered, "I did not call
you, my son. Go back to sleep." At that time Samuel was not familiar with
the Lord, because the Lord had not revealed anything to him as yet. The Lord
called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said,
"Here I am. You called me." Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the
youth. So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'" when Samuel went to sleep in
his place, the Lord came and revealed his presence, calling out as before,
"Samuel, Samuel!" Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
Samuel grew up, and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to
be without effect.
Responsorial Psalm: (Psalm 40:2,4,7-10)
Refrain: Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
1) I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard
my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.
2) Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave
me. Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, "Behold I come."
3) "In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God,
is my delight, And your law is within my heart!"
4) I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O Lord, know.
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 6:13-15,17-20)
The body is not for immorality; it is for the Lord, and the Lord is for the
body. God, who raised up the Lord, will raise us also by his power. Do you
not see that your bodies are members of Christ? Whoever is joined to the
Lord becomes one spirit with him. Shun lewd conduct. Every other sin a man
commits is outside his body, but the fornicator sins against his own body.
You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is within
-- the Spirit you have received from God. You are not your own. You have
been purchased, and at what a price! So glorify God in your body.
Gospel (John 1:35-42)
John was in Bethany across the Jordan with two of his disciples. As he
watched Jesus walk by he said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God!" The two
disciples heard what he said, and followed Jesus. When Jesus turned around
and noticed them following him, he asked them, "What are you looking for?"
They said to him, "Rabbi (which means Teacher), where do you stay?" "Come
and see," he answered. So they went to see where he was lodged, and stayed
with him that day. (It was about four in the afternoon.) One of the two who
had followed him after hearing John was Simon Peter's brother Andrew. The
first thing he did was seek out his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found
the Messiah!" (which means the Anointed). He brought him to Jesus, who looked
at him and said, "You are Simon, son of John; your name shall be Cephas (which
is rendered Peter)."
HOMILY: "Called By Name"
If we could summarize the lesson of today's gospel reading for us in one
sentence it might come out something like this: Jesus has called us each by
name in our hearts to be his disciples.
Let us consider why this is so.
First of all, it is Jesus who calls us. But who is Jesus? Jesus is God in
human flesh. At Jesus' baptism, which we heard about last week, the Divine
Trinity was revealed to us since the voice of the Father approved of the work
of his Son, Jesus Christ, who was then empowered by the Spirit. So therefore
God in all three persons approves of all that our Lord does in God's name.
Therefore, when we speak of Jesus, we can really speak of God: Jesus and God
So it is Jesus who calls us. What does it mean to be called? The English
word comes from the Greek word kaleo and means to command or request to be
present, to come. For example, someone is called to testify in court. It can
also mean to speak of or address by a specified name, or to give a name to
someone. We will discuss names in a little while. But before we leave the
word call, I should point out that the Latin word for call is vocare from which
we get the word "vocal", as in vocal cords, a part of the body we use to speak.
From vocare we also get the word vocation, which means a calling to a particular
occupation, business or profession. In the church, we use the word primarily
to mean a vocation to religious life, to the priesthood, to the diaconate or
to some other ministry in the church.
So Jesus calls us. Who exactly are we whom he calls? We are ordinary persons,
just like his disciples. The disciples were simple folk, fishermen of which
there were many near the Sea of Galilee, ordinary people. They weren't the
learned of their day, or wealthy. They lived simple, ordinary lives, just like
we do. He comes to us exactly where we are. My wife and I were recently
watching the TV and happened on an old movie called 'The Left Hand of God'. It
was about a renegade pilot who was shot down over China during World War II and
is captured by a local robber baron. Eventually, he escapes and flees to a
small Chinese village where he assumes the identity of a dead priest. As time
goes on, he comes to be loved by the people who have not had a priest for
several years. The change that occurs in Humphrey Bogart, who plays the pilot,
as he assimilates the persona of the priest is astounding. It struck me that
God will use everyone, right where they are, to accomplish his purposes. So it
is that Jesus calls us, just as he called the ordinary fishermen of his day.
So Jesus calls us each one by name. What is in a name? It is the distinctive
designation of a person or thing. It is the opposite of something which is
nameless, anonymous, or indistinguishable from something else which is just like
it. It is the ultimate sign of respect. It always drives me crazy when I
interact with people who know my name but don't use it. I feel it reduces me to
the status of anyone in the nameless crowd, someone we meet on the street. I
even have been known to get upset with my children when they don't address me
as their father. That is why I try so hard to get to know all of you by name,
which of course leads me into some embarrassing situations. In any case, it is
God who calls us each by name in the depths of our hearts. Conversely, knowing
God's name (Yahweh) gives us a certain degree of power to be able to address
him personally (he can't ignore us when we call).
In today's gospel, John uses names throughout the reading. John sees Jesus
and refers to him as the Lamb of God. When Jesus sees the disciples following
him and asks them what they are looking for, they address him as "Rabbi".
Then Andrew finds his brother Simon and tells him that he has found the Messiah,
or the Anointed. Finally, our Lord speaks to Simon and calls him Peter. None
of these people are addressed impersonally as "hey, you". No, they are people
with a distinct identity. God does not address us impersonally either. He
calls us each by name.
So it is Jesus who calls us, each one of us. How does God call us, each one of
us? He doesn't ask us to come to him in a group. No, he speaks to us
individually in our hearts. There is a story I have used in the past which I
can't resist repeating here.
A four-year old girl was at the pediatrician's office for a check-up.
As the doctor looked into her ears with an otoscope, he asked her "Do
you think that I'll find Big Bird in here?" The little girl remained
silent. Next, the doctor took a tongue depressor and looked down her
throat. He asked her "Do you think I'll find the Cookie Monster down
here?" Again, the girl did not answer him. Finally, the doctor put
a stethoscope to her chest. As he listened to her heartbeat, he asked
"Do you think I'll hear Barney in here?" At that, the little girl
looked up with her eyes wide and said "Oh, no. Jesus is in my heart;
Barney's on my underpants. (1)
God no longer speaks to us in a voice that we can hear, as he spoke to Samuel in
our first reading. And since he can no longer call us physically, as he did
his first disciples, Jesus calls to us in the depths of our hearts.
So he calls us each by name to be his disciples. What is a disciple? It means
a follower, one who has grasped another's teachings. The fact that you are here
today means that you are eager to grasp his teachings. Why is this important?
Because they can make a significant difference in your life. Another word for
disciple which we heard in the first reading is "servant". Now this is a word
that is near and dear to my heart. In 1996, I was ordained as a deacon in the
Diocese of Trenton. Now the English word deacon comes from the Greek word
diakonos, which means servant. So, deacons are servants of the church of God.
Speaking of the diaconate, discipleship can take many forms, one of which could
be a special calling to the religious life, priesthood or diaconate. If you've
thought about the priesthood, talk to one of our priests about it. If you're
married and have a family, but have thought about the diaconate, let's talk. I,
or one of the other deacons, would be more than willing to share our feelings
with you. For the single women, perhaps you feel a calling to the religious
life. Talk to one of the nuns in our school.
So Jesus calls us each by name to be his disciples. But recognizing the call
is another story. In our first reading today, God called Samuel three times
(by name you notice) before Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling
Samuel. Next week we will be discussing Jonah's reaction to God's call which
was anything but wholehearted. Each of us has to look deeply into our own
hearts and discern how Jesus is speaking to us. And once we've heard his voice,
we need to respond as Samuel did: "Here I am, Lord; your servant is listening.
I come to do your will."
1. Barney, from A Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, copyright 1996
by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, p. 81. Health Communications, Inc.,
Deerfield Beach, FL. (This resource, as well as many others including a
specially-priced package of the Chicken Soup books, is available at a
discount through the Homiletic Resource Center.)
Penitential Rite (from January 2000)
Lord Jesus, you are the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ Jesus, you revealed yourself, not to the rich and the wise, but to
ordinary fishermen. Christ, have mercy.
Lord Jesus, you have called us each by name to be your disciples. Lord,
Prayers of the Faithful (from January 2000)
Celebrant: In today's readings, we recalled how God called Samuel to his
service and how Christ called his first disciples. Because he has first
loved us and has called each of us to follow him, we can confidently bring
our prayers and petitions before him.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer."
That the Holy Spirit will continue to guide the bishops, priests, deacons,
religious and lay leaders of the Church who have selflessly answered God's
call to service, we pray to the Lord.
That the leaders of the nations of the world will treat all of those
entrusted to their care with justice and respect, we pray to the Lord.
That the sick, the terminally ill and those who are grieving the loss of a
loved one will place their cares in the hands of the one who first called
them to follow him, we pray to the Lord.
That the Holy Spirit may lead additional members of our parish family to
participate in the Renew 2000 Small Christian Communities during the
upcoming season, we pray to the Lord.
For all of the intentions which we hold in our hearts and which we now
recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: Gracious God, your Son has called us to be his disciples and to
follow his ways. Grant us the grace of your Spirit to always remain faithful
to his call and to willingly accept the changes which answering his call
will cause in our lives. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
copyright - Sermon by Deacon Sil Galvan 2000, 2006
Page by Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 2003 - 2006
please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.