Saint Stephen's Statue.




12, Gbeto Street, Off Iwaya Road, Onike-Iwaya, Yaba-Lagos.

Saint Stephen's Building.


Speak Lord your servant listensWe are all called to follow Our Lord Jesus. Jesus continues to invite us to a loving relationship because He wants to communicate His will and His love to us. Just as all peoples of the Old Covenant, were called to be faithful to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so are we and especially now that we have Christ Jesus as the final revelation. God is always in the habit of communicating to us. He wants to communicate with us always and it is through this communication that He reveals Himself, His plan, His will and His person to us. God wants to come to us not as an overlord but as a friend.

We are all a bit like Samuel in the first reading today, from the First Book of Samuel: we are confused about who is calling us. Like Samuel, God continues to call us to do His will. We all are created for a purpose and hence as we journey in life, our purpose becomes clearer to us. However, we must be willing and ready to listen to God; to listen to His word; to hear His voice. The letter of St John tells us, “My Sheep listen to my voice. They know me and they follow me”. God is always speaking to us but then we are not always attentive to His call. He speaks to us in various ways. His speaking is synonymous with His self-communication or self-revelation. He wants us to know Him better and thus communicates His very self to us. Sometimes He communicates to us through dreams; visions; our parents; the circumstances of our lives; our superiors and a host of other situations. As in the Old Testament where God’s self-revelation was via various media – fire, cloud, water, earthquake to mention a few, God still communicates Himself to us each day.

How attentive are we to God’s call? We cannot readily hear the voice of God unless we develop a relationship with Him. We must be willing and ready to enter into His Word and appreciate and understand His word. An intimate relationship with God is crucial to understanding or hearing His voice when He calls out to us. Scripture records in the first reading, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” There was no way Samuel could decipher who it was that was calling out to him because his ears were not as at yet attuned to God’s word.

As Christians, how often do we study the word of God? How often do we worthily receive the sacraments? How much time do we spend in meditation before God, especially in the Blessed Sacrament? What is our prayer life like today? Can we readily say we know God enough to hear and decipher His voice when He calls? Yet how can we say that we are listening if we do not spend time reading the Scriptures and listening to the Word of God? How can we say that we are listening if we never attend Church services? How can we say that we are listening if we do not listen to the presence of God in our sisters and brothers?

Why do we not hear the voice of God? Why can we not perceive Him when He comes or when He calls? The reason is same as what hinders proper communication? NOISE!!! Very often our sense of hearing is beclouded and hampered by noise. The noise in the world is enormous. The noise is deafening and unless we make conscious efforts to reduce or completely eliminate the noise in our lives, then we may continue to struggle to hear God’s word and may inevitably not hear His voice and consequently not faithfully do His will. What is this noise in our lives? It is SIN?

The noise of SIN in our lives and our world makes it impossible to hear and do God’s will. Sin is an obstacle to hearing God’s voice. In a world of perpetual distraction and compulsive multitasking, one must submit himself consciously to moments of silence to listen to the steering of God in our hearts. Like St. Paul admonishes us in the second reading, our bodies are sacred gifts of God and not to be misused. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. Today we can find so many ways to numb our bodies with pleasure, with addictions, with distractions and with countless way of destruction. We must recognize that our bodies are truly joined to the Lord and members of Christ Himself. And the more we honour our bodies the more we please God and can clearly hear His voice and do His will.

Like Samuel in the first reading, we all need guides in order to advance in the spiritual life. We need guides to assist us, and with whom we can grow to know God better and love and serve Him. Do you have a spiritual director or directress? Do you avail yourselves of the opportunities available to go for spiritual direction and counseling? How often to do you attend parish spiritual exercises, like retreats, recollections, devotional activities etc? Samuel went to Eli for guidance and He was able to find the Lord. We too can be guides to others like John the Baptist was to Andrew; and Andrew was to Peter.

In the gospel narrative, John the Baptist initiates the coming of God to us by introducing and pointing to two of his own disciples to Jesus, Andrew being the key player. John points Jesus out to them by exclaiming: “Look, there is the Lamb of God!” It’s sort of like being at a social function when a very significant person enters the room and a friend says to you: “Well, look who’s here!”

A conversation then develops between Andrew and Jesus, a conversation sprinkled with seeking words like, “What do you want?” “Where do you live?” “Come and see,” and “Come with me,” all of them filled with the relational words of friendship. Let me emphasize here that these are the inviting words of friendship, not the commanding words of submission and obedience. These are words that invite us to live closely with Jesus and with Him come to know how we should live with others.

The point here is that our religion in its most distilled form is a friendship between ourselves and God in Jesus Christ. It is the one operative principle throughout Christ’s entire life. Even at the end of His life during the Last Supper, Jesus gets down on His knees, washes feet, stands up and looking each one in the eye says: “I no longer call you slaves … I call you friends.”

John the Baptist told his two disciples about Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” At once they began following Jesus. And when Jesus saw them, he asked them: “What are you looking for?” At first, it may look like a simple question. But actually, it is profound and challenging. It invites one to look deeply into himself and evaluate the direction and the meaning of his life. Obviously, the two disciples did not get the full implication of the question because they replied with another question: “Rabbi, where are you staying?”

Jesus does not answer them directly instead He replies with an invitation: “Come, and you will see” (v. 39). It is an invitation, not to a place of abode, but to a relationship, to be part of his life. “So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day” (v. 39). That one day of experience inspires them so much that it radically transforms them, from being followers to evangelizers. One of them, Andrew, looks for his brother, Simon, and eagerly breaks the good news to him: “We have found the Messiah” (v. 41).

Every day the Lord invites us: “Come, follow me.” Like the two disciples, many of us would readily follow him. But he would invariably pose the same question: “What are you looking for?” As the ancient philosopher said, “an unexamined life is not worth living”. People follow Jesus for various reasons, depending on one’s idea about him. As Thomas Merton said, “Our idea of God tells us more about ourselves than about Him.” This has been adequately shown in the Gospels. Many see him as the great Healer; one who teaches with authority; a Miracle worker or even as a trouble maker, hence they follow Him to catch Him out. Jesus asks us: “What you are looking for?” In other words, he wants to know why we are following him. This is a crucial question that has to be answered honestly in order to purify our motivations and intensify our commitment to follow him. It is only Jesus that makes our life meaningful and fruitful even in the midst of pain and suffering.

As we look around us, we see so many lost and wandering souls. They go through life looking for meaning and happiness in the world of drugs, vices, materialism and selfishness. Like St. John the Baptist, we have the duty to tell them about Jesus: “Behold, the Lamb of God!” And like St. Andrew, we must bring them to Jesus that they, too, may find the true meaning of life. Admittedly, this is no easy task. People in modern society have become intoxicated with worldly pleasures and selfish ambitions that the Lord’s words fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts. Our Holy Father Emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI fully aware of this called for a “new evangelization.” He said that, “proclaiming Jesus Christ, the sole Saviour of the world, is more complex today than in the past…” Hence, the Church’s message “needs to be renewed today in order to convince modern persons, who are often distracted and insensitive. That is why the new evangelization must find ways to make the proclamation of salvation more effective…”

We all have a responsibility of leading others to the knowledge of Christ and His word and not away from Him. To do so, we too must be willing to enter into a relationship of love and obedience with Him, because nemo dat quod non habet – you cannot give what you do not have. Well, except you’ve decided to steal it!!!

The scriptures constantly challenged us to live a life that is worthy of our vocation to love. As we read about the positive response of Samuel, Simon and Andrew to the divine call, we must not forget that we are all called to be disciples. God is calling you to do something good; he is calling you to be something wonderful. We should constantly ask ourselves daily and in every situation of life - What is he calling me to do? What is he calling me to say? What is he calling me to be? Speak Lord, Your Servant is Listening!

Prayer – Lord, quiet my heart to listen to your Word; open my ears to listen to your Word; put your word on my lips, that I may proclaim it; and give me the courage to live authentically in obedience to your word. Amen!!!


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