Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Calling people by their names
Points to note
For this reading, I have chosen the first reading instead of the Gospel reading of John’s account of the calling of the two disciples. For one thing, Mark’s account of the calling of disciples next Sunday is probably easier to follow. More so, I find that the story of the calling of Samuel has a certain appeal to children. First, it is a story of a child. Secondly, there is the drama of the narrative, which if told well, can be very effective.
There is also the calling of Samuel by name. If we did not get to discuss about baptism and the names we were called at baptism in LSW at the Baptism of the Lord, we can start off the year with names being called in LSW. So, facilitators will get to know the names of all the children.
Also, I have always been fascinated by names and they are fun. So, for this session, it will be good to delve into a book of names and understand the meanings and the stories behind some names you will encounter in the session.
As the reading is not taken from the Gospel reading, there is no acclamation before the Gospel. Explain that this reading is about the prophet Samuel when he was a little boy. Samuel was one of the greatest prophets of Israel and was the one who made David the king – on God’s instructions, of course.
A Reading from the First Book of Samuel
(Sm 3: 3-10,19)
Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord where the ark of God was, when the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” He answered, “Here I am.” Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, since you called me.” He said, “I did not call. Go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Once again the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, since you called me.” He replied, “I did not call, my son; go back and lie down.” Samuel at that age did not yet understand the ways of the Lord as he has not yet learned the scriptures. Once again the Lord called, the third time. He got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, since you called me.” Eli then knew that it was the Lord who was calling the boy, and he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if someone calls say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Then the Lord came and stood by, calling as he had done before, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, ”Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him and he became a prophet everyone listened to.
This is the Word of the Lord
Go through the story again. How did God call Samuel? By his name. Discuss how it would be if Samuel didn’t have a name – God would have to call him ‘Oi!’ or something like that!! Is it important that we all have names? Why?
When were we given our names? At our baptism. The baby is brought to church with the family. The priest asks the parents what name they wish to give the child. That is the first time your names are heard in the church and the whole community of God now know your names.
You could take this opportunity to ask the children what their parents replied. Go round and ask the children one by one - that’s one way of finding out the children’s name. It will be a good start to the year to find out all the children’s name since all family members know each other’s name and shouldn’t we too as God’s family?
Do we know how we got our names? Some could have been named after a relative or after someone famous. Or there could some interesting story to it. The Guinness Book of Names record a boy named ‘Bill’ because he came at the end of the month!
Do your names have meanings? It may also be handy to have a book of names so that you could give the meaning of the names of children. But don’t do too many as there may not be enough time. It is also interesting to see variation of names. John, for example, can also be Ian (Scottish); Uwen (Welsh); Sean (Irish); Jean (French); Johannes (Dutch); Juan (Spanish); Joao (Portuguese); Hans (German); Jon (Scandinavian); Jan (Polish); Ivan (Russian); and most unusually, Giovanni (Italian).
Sometimes we were given names so that we can take on the virtues of the name. For example, the parents of a girl called Faith may want her to grow up faithful. Or the parents of a boy named Francis may want him to grow up to be like St Francis. In the olden days, people believe that you take on the virtues and attributes of the name that you were given or the virtues of the person you were named after. That is why names are so important in those days.
How many names do we have? We can have Christian names, Chinese/Indian names, surnames, nicknames, etc. All of us got an extra name at our baptism. We were all given the same name: Christians. After our baptism, people call us Christians. Whose name did that take on? Does it mean we should take on the attributes of Christ and be like him if we were to retain the name Christian and have people to continue to call us that?