Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

All of us get a cell phone, and when a call comes in to our phone we have some options. If the call is from someone in our address book, the phone will show us the person’s name, maybe even the person’s picture, so ones can decide I want to speak to that person, or not. If the person making the call is not in our address book, usually a number will appear. Then one wonders if it is really from someone ones want to speak to. It could be a long lost friend, or someone who has changed their number. Anyway, with our cell phones we can decide if I want to speak to someone or send them to voice mail[1].

Everyday all of us receive calls from the Lord. The question becomes: Do we recognize his number? Sometimes, like the disciples in the Gospel, we recognize the Lord and follow. Sometimes, we don’t recognize His number and can’t be bothered with answering. Often, though, we just send God’s call to voice mail. We might be afraid of what He is going to ask of us. He might demand something more than we want to do or give. Maybe, we’d rather deal with Him later. Maybe if we ignore the call enough, we won’t have to deal with it at all.

And that is the sad truth of our reaction to God’s call. If we don’t respond like Samuel in today’s first reading, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening,” we might miss our opportunity to do His will. Maybe the Lord wants us to lead someone who is estranged from Him closer to Him with our kindness. Maybe the Lord is calling us to enter into the path of life where we can best serve Him. God’s calls have an impact on our lives as well as on the lives of people we might not even know.

This Sunday is the perfect time to discuss the call of God that we receive in our lives, our vocation. Usually, when we hear the concept of vocation we think of those who are called to become priests or to enter religious life as sisters or brothers. These are certainly vocations from God, but they are not the only call that God gives.

Many of you are married or are hoping to be married someday. How do you view marriage? If it is just a romantic matter legalized by the state and celebrated in a Church, then you are missing an essential part of the sacrament of marriage. Marriage is a vocation, a call from God to greatness by embracing a life of sacrificial love. But marriage takes two people. If you are married, you need to pray to God that you will be a good Catholic wife or husband, concerned with giving love. Husbands and wives also need to pray for each other.

Many are involved in careers. Why do you do what you do? To make money? That’s OK, but if that is the goal of your lives, you certainly will have nothing to take with you. There is a reason why they don’t put a luggage rack on a hearse. Do you do what you do to support your family? That is a higher goal because sacrificial love will join you in the next life.

John Henry Cardinal Newman[2] considered God’s call to him in life and reflected on it with a beautiful prayer: God has created me for some definite service; He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have a mission. I may never know exactly what that mission is in this life. I shall be told it in the next. I have a part in a great work. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. I shall do well. I shall do His work. I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, even if I do not realize what I am doing. But, if I keep His commandments, I will serve Him in my calling[3].

What is your calling? What is my calling? The general answer to those questions is simple: we are called to serve God. The particular answer to these questions is a mystery, the mystery of our lives.

We pray today for the grace and courage to be attuning to God’s call in our lives. We pray for the courage to have an orientation to the Lord throughout our lives, so that when He calls we will respond, Speak Lord, your servant is listening[4]

[1] Sunday 18th January, 2009, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Readings: 1 Samuel 3:3-10, 19. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will—Ps 39(40):2, 4, 7-10. 1 Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20. John 1:35-42.
[2] Cardinal Newman was an intellectual who lived in England from 1801 to 1890. He dabbled with atheism early in his life, but then sought God in religion, in the Church of England, or Anglican Church. In 1845 he wrote that as he studied more and more about Catholicism, he realized that everything they said was true. He became a Catholic and led a movement of Anglican scholars to Catholicism called the Oxford Movement. He became a Roman Catholic priest, and eventually was even made a cardinal. Last April Pope Benedict XVI announced that Cardinal Newman will be beatified sometime this year.
[4] Cfr Sam 3: 3b-10, 19.

Ilustration: M. Chagall, Samuel called by God (1956), 12 x 9cm, Franklin Bowles Gallery, New York.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris