One year ago my mum visited me here, in Scotland, for two weeks. We travelled a lot, because I wanted to show her the beauty of this country. Once I decided to walk on the Bin of Cullen, a quite small hill behind Buckie. I assumed that there would be a nice view from there, but I had never been there before. So, I looked at the map and found a straight path to the top. But when we reached the base of the hill, I couldn’t find the beginning of the path. Finally I had to give up and come back home ashamed. A few weeks later I used the internet and found the instructions, how to reach the summit. A hike with the printed description was a piece of cake: 45 minutes of walking and I admired the wonderful view. I have led many people there, but not my mum – she came back to Poland before I found the guidance.
Someone else took the same trail, described it and made it available for others. Nowadays we use the fruits of invention, experience and knowledge of countless people. Maybe we know, who invented the radio or telephone, but most of the inventors and scientists are unknown. We used their inventions, because we find them useful. A lot of things are so certain in our lives, that we don’t realise their importance unless we lose them. For young people mobile phones, personal computers or the internet are always available. In some particular way we follow those inventors. They showed us a direction, but we decide whether to use this way or not.
Today’s readings tell us similar stories. In the first one a young boy, Samuel, can hear God’s voice, calling him by name. But he cannot recognise the voice. Only an experienced man, the high priest, helps the boy to discover God. The priest does just one thing, he just gives directions: “If someone calls say ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening'”. The boy follows his instruction. In the gospel John the Baptist does exactly the same – pointing at Jesus recognising him as the Lamb of God. This was a very clear, certain declaration for Jews, two disciples of John the Baptist follow Jesus and finally they recognise him as the Messiah.
We see people, who help others to find God. None of them forced their subjects to follow the instructions. They leave a space for personal decision, even if the decision might be wrong. They respect free human will. They treat the disciples exactly like God.
In our own time we sometimes complain about people, who don’t go to the church. Forcing them seems to be the simplest way. But this is not a solution. We can’t do it. What can we do? Exactly the same that Eli and John the Baptist did: to shows directions by the lives we lead, by conformity of our words and actions, by honest love. Doing this we may hear in reply: “I have found happiness”.