As Jesus walked along the road John the Baptist saw him and cried out “behold, the Lamb of God.” Several of John’s disciples leave him and begin to follow Jesus asking him where he is staying and Jesus responds “come and you will see”…and they followed him. It is interesting to note that when one of the disciples, Andrew, brings his brother to Jesus, Jesus immediately changes his name from Simon to Peter!
In the Bible when there is a name change, such as Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah or Saul to Paul, it often signals a significant change in the person and their relationship to God. It can also signal that their lives are about to change, that they are about to swerve from the road they are traveling down onto a new path…one specifically chosen for them by God. Peter’s name change is no less significant, he is about to become “the chief” of this, as of yet unformed, band of followers of Jesus. In Jesus’ act of changing Simon’s name he is calling him to come and follow him. If he accepts the name change, then he accepts the invitation to follow Jesus.
I often think that it was so much easier for the disciples to hear the call and to follow since Jesus was right there, physically present to them. They could audibly hear his preaching, they could see, and read, his facial expressions and his hand and body gestures…but for those of us who came later to this band of followers…well it’s a little harder for us to know exactly what the call is and where it is leading us. Sometimes the call is clear and well-articulated but sometimes it is not so clear or well-articulated. Sometimes it seems muffled and downright confusing. So we have to pay close attention and listen carefully....especially as there is so much competition for our attention. There are so many other voices that seem to all speak at the same time -- we can be like Samuel, a bit confused and not sure at first...but if we stay engaged and "make time" to listen for that small, still voice of the Holy Spirit that dwells within each one of us....then, perhaps, we will hear the invitation to "come and follow" and we will find the path we are being called to travel.
In the end the invitation is clear, but the many "voices" of our lives and the world around us distract us and gain all our attention and so we can find ourselves confused and unsure of the path to follow, But by refocusing our attention and making time to listen we can, like Samuel and Simon, "come and follow." Jesus called his disciples to love as he had loved, to reach out to the poor and the marginalized and maligned...and that call is still made to us today.
It is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that we are empowered to speak truth to power and to call out our political leaders who fail to respect the human dignity of all persons regardless of their race, gender or economic status. And when such persons demean and disparage entire countries, races and cultures we are indeed, by faith, called to speak out, for the people of these countries are not only our sisters and brothers but cohabitants in the Reign of God! What are the competing voices of my life that make it difficult for me to really listen for God's call to me? Do I need to "make" more time to listen to God? How can I best do that?