21 January 2015

A Call, Not a Text

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Until I was around 25 years old, I was convinced that I was never going to have a cell phone plan that included texting.  No one texted me, and I didn’t text anyone.  It seemed like texting was really pointless.  Why not just call and talk to the person?  What was so wrong about physically hearing the voice of the other person, and what was so right about typing out a short message to the other person?  I don’t know when that exactly changed, but I remember thinking how much easier it was to ask a person if they wanted to go out to dinner, rather than going through the whole formality of, “Hi!  How you doin’?  Thanks, I’m doing well.  Hey, I was just wondering if you had dinner plans tonight.  No?  Where would you want to go?  Yeah, that’s a good place, but I just went there last week.  Want to try a different place?  Or what are you in the mood for?  Italian sounds great.  Meet you at the restaurant at 5?  Oh, ok; 5:30 then?  Great.  Talk to you later!  Bye!!”  Now it’s just, “Dinner? Italian? What time? Cya then.”  
Texting has seemed to replace calling.  Usually the only phone calls I get are from much older family members, businesses at work, and emergency calls.  Almost everyone else texts.  And yet, it means more when there’s a call.  Calling is to texting what a letter is to an email.  It just shows so much more commitment and personalization.  
Today’s readings focus us on a call from God, especially the first reading of the call of Samuel, and the Gospel with the calling of the first disciples of Jesus.  But in each case, God doesn’t send a text to Samuel, nor does Jesus text Andrew and Peter.  He personally invites them to a special relationship with him.  In the case of Samuel, God calls Samuel to be a prophet.  In the case of the disciples, Jesus calls them to leave everything behind and follow Him.  Even the Psalm takes up this theme, as we heard, “Sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, ‘Behold I come.’”  There is a call from God that is meant for a response.
There are many calls that God makes to us.  And each involves us personally.  It’s not a group message.  When we are baptized, our name is spoken out loud in the church for the first time.  And God calls that child by name to be a saint, a holy man or woman.  That is our universal call or vocation to holiness.  When we are confirmed, our name is called once more and we are given the mission of proclaiming Jesus by how we live our lives and what we say.  That is our vocation to be evangelists.  When we commit to a vocation, after God has led us there, our name is spoken once more, and we are given a specific way of glorifying God.  We can glorify God through a vocation to serve the Church as a Deacon or a Priest in the Sacrament of Holy Order; to put on Christ in a special way, as Christ the Servant or as Christ the Head.  We can glorify God through a vocation to serve the Church as a consecrated man or woman, as a monk or nun, as a brother or sister, or as a consecrated virgin; to dedicate our entire life to Jesus and give Him all that we are.  We can glorify God through a vocation to marriage to serve the Church by witnessing Christ’s love for His Church, a love which sacrifices all for the other; to cooperate with God in forming new life and new disciples of Jesus.  Whether in the Sacrament of Holy Order, the Sacrament of Marriage, or consecrated life, God personally invites us to these ways of life as our names are proclaimed in the church.  
But in addition to the large scale calls, what we might call the macro-calls, there are also the small scale calls, what we might call the micro-calls.  These are the daily calls that God makes in our life to follow Him in a particular way.  Maybe He’s calling us to help someone at work going through a difficult time; to stop gossiping; to love more; to share; to pray for someone.  Each day the Lord invites us to follow Him.  And each day we say yes we are responding to the large scale call.  But whether macro or micro, each call requires a response.  There is no conversation with a person if we don’t answer the phone call.  There is no conversation with God if we don’t listen to what He wants to say to us and respond.  Sometimes it will come in a very powerful way that is out of the ordinary like with Samuel.  Sometimes it will come in a very mundane way that doesn’t seem like a big deal, like when Jesus told Andrew, “‘Come, and you will see.’”

Through the Eucharist which we will receive, God is extending a call to grow more deeply in union with Him, and is giving us the strength through the Body and Blood of His Son to respond to that call.  This week I encourage you to listen for the call of God.  It won’t come impersonally like in a text, but will be a personal invitation from God to love Him more and share that love with others.