Scripture Reflections – Sunday, January 15th, 2012

1Sm 3:3b-10, 19; 1Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Don’t get me wrong – I think “Tebow time” is a great story.   Tim Tebow, current quarterback of the Denver Broncos and former collegiate hero, led his team to a thrilling , overtime, upset victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers this past Sunday.  Even better, by all accounts he seems to be a prayerful, honest and genuine young man who has somehow managed not to be corrupted by the culture of entitlement to which so many pro athletes seem to succumb.  To me, his gestures of prayer on the field seem genuine.

Yet I have some misgivings about this feel-good story.    I wonder if some of the adulation surrounding Tim Tebow at the moment might lead people to think that Tim Tebow’s success is the direct result of his prayer.  As if God is rewarding him for being such a good prayer and punishing those who mock him.

That’s the way we do things – but it’s not the way God does things.

Reflect upon this Sunday’s first reading.  We Christians along with our Jewish sisters and brothers honor Samuel as one of God’s great and holy prophets.  While we don’t know nearly as much about his mentor Eli, it is clear from today’s story that he is a holy man of prayer as well.  Yet neither one of them understands that God is calling Samuel to be a prophet for quite some time.  Actually, it takes the pair awhile to figure out that the voice Samuel is hearing is God’s voice.   It’s only after the third call –  a number symbolizing completeness and wholeness in the Bible – that Eli gets the message and helps his disciple understand.  Discerning God’s Will, and the movement of the Spirit in our lives and in our world, takes time.  A lifetime.

“Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.”  Samuel’s words capture for us the essential dynamic of prayer.  We can’t change God’s mind, or impress God with our piety, or be assured of getting what we need (at least, what we think we need) if we pray nicely enough.  What we can do, by God’s grace, is be open and be patient.

Maybe this week you’ll throw the metaphorical equivalent of a last minute touchdown pass within the circumstances of your own life.  Maybe you’ll be sacked by the 350 pound linemen that’s taken aim at you.  Either way, you can be sure that after the crowd noise has dispersed you will be left with the still, small voice of God echoing in your soul.

Jim Philipps (3rdmilleniumpilgrim)

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