1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20; Jn 1:35-42
It was no smash hit at the box office, but like many films of this genre, Joe Versus the Volcano became somewhat of a 1990’s cult movie. Tom Hank’s character is diagnosed with a “brain cloud” and given three months to live. Trying to make the most of what time he has left, he eventually meets Meg Ryan as Patricia, and on one moonlit night, she tells him: “My father says that almost the whole world is asleep. Everybody you know. Everybody you see. Everybody you talk to. He says that only a few people are awake, and they live in a state of constant total amazement.”
Although asleep, the boy Samuel, “as yet unfamiliar with the Lord,” has enough curiosity and wonder to answer the unrecognizable, yet alluring voice calling his name, and eventually encounters the presence of the living God. What simply could have been deemed interruptions to a restful night by the youth, are welcomed with wide-eyed, heart-pounding enthusiasm.
When John the Baptist announces, “Behold, the Lamb of God” as Jesus is passing by, eventual apostle Andrew awakens to the call and inquires of Jesus, “Where are you staying?” Alive and alert, rather than numbly cruising through life, Andrew encounters the living God in the person of Jesus. Charged with excitement, he doesn’t keep the experience to himself, rather he hustles his brother Simon off to have a similar encounter, which changes Simon’s life (and his name) forever!
Are we awake or asleep to the life we are living? Is our faith journey and relationship with the Lord stuck in REM sleep, or brimming with enthusiasm and curiosity? Would we be accused of total amazement as missionary disciples of Christ, or time-clock punchers, droning along from one shift to the next? Are we on autopilot during the Eucharistic liturgy, our over-familiarity leaving us wondering how we went from Kyrie to the Communion procession without noticing?
There is much in our daily living that conspires to numb us, to sink us into deep drowsiness, to leave us disappointed and unenthusiastic. Worries, concerns, anxieties, missed opportunities, low or non-existent hopes, world-weariness, unrealistic expectations, lack of encouragement, disaffection, and so much more, can be like siphons draining the soul out of many of us.
Is it any wonder then that St. Paul inquires of the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a member of Christ; do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” The wild, energizing, potent Spirit of God dwells within our very beings, striving to alert us to the presence of God that constantly is knocking at our doors, but alas, we are too often asleep, even unwilling to get up when the Spirit is calling our name, trying to rouse us from our sleep-inducing fear, disinterest, lethargy and boredom.
In a beautiful passage from one of her poems, Mary Oliver declares: “When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement,
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”
The voice of the Lord, who just last week in identifying Jesus as “Beloved,” also proclaims our “belovedness,” since as Paul tells us, “Whoever is joined to the Lord becomes one Spirit with him.” The voice of the Lord has not gone silent, rather keeps calling us. However, we have a choice to respond with the curiosity of Samuel and the inquisitiveness of Andrew and Simon, or to remain, as Patricia’s father lamented, asleep to the Spirit groaning within us.
What wonders could be worked in our little corners of the world if each of us, who not only proclaim “the Lamb of God” but who intimately consume “the Lamb of God,” spent a little less time asleep this week!
Father Berinti serves as pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Melbourne Beach.