Something is revealed when it is recognized. That is what revelation is: recognition and acceptance that it is. John C. Schroeder in the Interpreter’s Bible gives the example of Isaac Newton to illustrate the point. “Many apples had fallen from trees. But when Newton saw it! In that simple occurrence there was not only discerned the relation between the apple and the earth, but that between the earth and the moon, between the earth and the sun. All the motions of the universe are expressed in the formula that bodies attract each other in proportion to their masses and inversely as the square of the distance between them”
One of the lessons we learn in the story of Samuel and God calling him in the First Reading for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany (1 Sam. 3:1-10; 11-20) is that God calls us in many different ways. There is not one way for all. Indeed, if we look at Isaiah’s call (Isa.6), or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, we see that they were called in different ways.
That is also the lesson in the Gospel Reading in John 1:43-51.
Often we miss to hear God’s call because we are either preoccupied or we are expecting a particular means for the call to come. When it does not come that way we miss it though it is there.
The call needs to be heeded. In other words, we need to respond when we are called. This is the second lesson. Samuel responded – three times in mistake, but that is all right. It is all right to make a mistake because the next time, like Samuel, we get it!
The third lesson: Answering the call can be costly. Samuel’s immediate problem after his call was to tell his mentor the bad news. Yet, that is why we are called. We are not called for our own sakes but to be God’s instruments. We are called for a vocation and a mission, which may entail suffering. Most of Jesus’ disciples suffered martyrdom.
Still, we are not afraid because the Lord has promised to be there to the end of time.