|Samuel and Eli -- John Singleton Copley|
Vocation, and what it implies, is the unmistakable theme that unifies this week’s readings. The Old Testament lesson tells the compelling story of the boy Samuel wakened in the night by a voice. Understandably, he takes it to be his aging master Eli calling for assistance. What else could it be? God is unlikely to call a mere boy in preference to a priest of wisdom and experience. Rather poignantly, it is Eli himself who helps Samuel to understand that this truly is God’s voice, even though by calling Samuel to be the priest and prophet of the Chosen People, God is thereby signaling not only the end of Eli's own religious role but the disntegration of his family.
In the Gospel passage from John, Jesus calls two disciples, Philip and his friend Nathanael. Philip’s call is brief and to the point, Nathanael’s rather less so. Both accept the call. The New Testament has more to tell us about Philip, but almost nothing further about Nathanael. Nevertheless, the question he asks in this brief episode is deeply resonant with meaning -- “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Such immediate skepticism -- rooted in prejudice perhaps -- makes him an unlikely candidate for discipleship. Yet Jesus sees honesty in his skepticism -- "truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit" -- and this is the perception underlying Nathanael's call.
|The Apostle Philip --Durer|