First Reading (1 Sam 3:3-10, 19). A personal call to a particular a way of life is not always easy to explain, even to oneself. The first reading describes a prophetic call, the ‘call’ of the young Samuel who is to become a prophet of great stature withinIsrael. The story insists that it is God who takes the initiative, while Samuel hears God’s call. Initially Samuel hears the word of God, but needs an interpreter to understand the import of God’s word to him. Eli acts as interpreter and guide, so that Samuel can respond with confidence and faith and grow up to speak God’s word to the people.
Second Reading (1 Cor 6:12-20). For the next six weeks, the second reading comes from Paul’s correspondence with the members of the Christian community in Corinth who had a genius for misunderstanding most of what he had initially taught them. In this passage, Paul refutes two of their slogans: ‘All things are lawful’ and ‘Food is for the body and the body for food and God will destroy both one and the other.’ Paul insists that the whole person, body and spirit, belongs to God. In other words, what we do with our bodies matters.
Gospel Reading (John 1:35-42) The gospel focuses on the ‘call’ to discipleship. The opening scene depicts John the Baptist with two of his disciples. John actually points these two away from himself and towards Jesus whom he identifies as ‘the lamb of God’. What does it mean to call Jesus ‘God’s lamb’. Does the expression refer to the Passover lamb whose blood signifies deliverance? Is it a reference to the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 who takes on the sins of the many? Is it an image of the lamb that God provides for Abraham’s sacrifice (Genesis 22)? Is it the apocalyptic lamb of Jewish literature of the time, the powerful conquering lamb that destroys evil in the world? Is it intended to suggest vulnerability as in the prophecy of Jeremiah 11:19 (‘I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter’). There is never a simple explanation when it comes to John’s gospel. The symbol of strength in vulnerability has potential for understanding who Jesus is in this gospel. John 1:29 tells us that the Lamb of God ‘takes away’ the sinful condition of the world. Twenty-one centuries down the track there is still violence and hunger and exploitation on a massive scale. The work of the one strong enough to risk vulnerability so that others may have life, the work of God’s Lamb, is also the work of those who hear God’s call and choose to walk the way of God’s lamb, in openness and love for God’s people.