“And he brought him to Jesus.”
Our readings today are about being called, changed, and joined to the Lord. God called out to Samuel in the still of the night. When sleepy Samuel finally understood and gave himself as a servant to that Voice his own words took on a new authority. Samuel’s words, in instituting a monarchy and anointing David as king, would change the future of Israel. Simon, too, was singled out by the Lord and became his possession as Jesus gave him a new name. Simon becomes Cephas, or as we know him Peter, which means rock. Simon, who at first is more like shifting sand, would be changed and would grow into his new name, becoming a key building block in the foundation of the Church. The writer of our second reading knew what it was all about to be called by the Lord. He heard that Voice on the Damascus road and the force of it knocked him to the ground. No wonder he writes that even the body now belongs to the Lord, faith is not just an intellectual matter. He fell to the ground as Saul but came up as Paul – the greatest evangelist in the history of the Church.
Too often those of us who work for peace and social justice forget this aspect of the peace ministry – the evangelistic task of calling people to be changed – converted – and joined to the Lord, the task of helping people to find peace with God and the peace of God. We may speak of bringing peace and justice to this world through the conversion of structures and by systemic change, but we tend to forget that within those structures and systems are people who must also experience a conversion. Structures and systems become sinful and oppressive as the result of sinful people. These people need converted and not just a conversion in ethics but a profoundly personal conversion that changes their identity and joins them with the Lord. We need to consider the ways in which social problems are solved when individual members of society are changed.
There is the need for Andrews in the Peace and Justice ministry. Andrew knew how to introduce people to Jesus, the Prince of Peace. We see him running home to get his brother Simon and watch as he enthusiastically drags him back to meet the Messiah. Andrew would later reach out beyond his family, even beyond his own nation and race, and introduce some spiritually seeking Greeks to Jesus (Jn. 12: 22). Samuel, too, needed someone to introduce him to the Lord. Without Eli’s introduction, Samuel would never have understood the call of the Lord. Without Eli, Samuel would have gained nothing from this nocturnal encounter but a sleepless night. There are many people in our world today whom God is calling, but they need an Eli to help them understand this awakening. Even Saul, whose encounter with the Lord is so sovereign and direct, needed Ananias’ assistance before his eyes could be fully opened. For people to know and have peace they must be introduced to the Prince of Peace. For the Kingdom of God to be realized on earth people must be brought before the King. Our ministry for peace and justice is ultimately futile unless we integrate personal evangelization in all our efforts.
Second Sunday I Sam. 3: 3-19; I Cor. 6: 13-20; Jn. 1: 35-42
PEACE CONNECTIONS: Making the connection between the Sunday Readings and issues of peace and justice. Copyright 1995, by Thomas L. Garlitz. “Not for profit” permission to reprint granted.