Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Technology today means we never have to take a call if we do not want to speak to the caller. The name and phone number of the caller appears on our phone, television or other electronic devices and in a split second we decide to answer the call or let it go to voice mail. What happens if the caller is God? Can we let the call go to voice mail? Will God leave a message if we decide not to answer?
It is important to recognize who is calling, but it is even more important once we recognize the caller to answer the call. If we don’t answer the call how can we ever understand the importance of the call or its meaning. That was the dilemma that faced Samuel and Eli in the first reading for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time from 1 Samuel 3:3b-10,19. Samuel is awoken from his sleep to hear someone calling him. He thinks it is Eli, who is his teacher. Samuel is half asleep himself and he awakens Eli says, “Here I am, you called.” Eli suddenly awoken himself and not fully aware of what has occurred tells Samuel that he did not call him, and to go back to sleep. Three times the Lord called Samuel that night, waking him out of sound sleep and three times Samuel woke Eli out of a sound sleep and asked him if he called. Now the passage tells us that Samuel was not familiar with the Lord, so he did not recognize his call, but Eli was and on the third call Eli tells Samuel to answer the call even though he could not identify the caller. Or did he identify the caller to be God? Samuel answers each time God’s call by saying, “here I am.” Samuel was willing to respond to God’s call, but he needed confirmation that it was truly God who was calling. Eli becomes the witness who affirms God’s call to Samuel. Eli said to him, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Samuel answered God’s call even though he could not immediately confirm that it was God calling. His willingness to answer the call reveals his openness to serve God’s plan of salvation by the faith he exhibited in answering the call. Samuel’s contribution to salvation history is significant, he is the prophet who calls David on behalf of God to be the anointed King of Israel and from whose line our Savior Jesus Christ is born. John the Baptist in the Gospel for the Second Sunday in Ordinary John 1:35-42; recognizes Jesus as he walks by, “Behold the Lamb of God.” John the Baptist is the voice that speaks God’s call by being a voice crying out in the wilderness, “make straight the path of the Lord.” (John 1: 23) If John the Baptist was not able to identify the call then Peter and Andrew would not have heard him say, “Behold the Lamb of God.” They would have missed their call because John the Baptist was not there to give it to them.
St. Paul exhorts the Corinthian Community to avoid immorality for they are the Temple of the Lord, “The body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.” (1 Cor. 6:13) The word that calls us as members of the body dwells within us, we are called to be a holy dwelling place for God’s sacred Word, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Word that calls, and the call unites us to the Body of Christ. Psalm 40 describes for us how God comes to us and gives us this new word, “I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.” (Psalm 40:2,4) We are called to respond in thanksgiving by agreeing to do God’s will, “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”
Answering the call is vital for the continuation of God’s plan of salvation. Jesus still calls, the problem is we let the call go to voice mail even when we can identify the caller to be God. Often people ask today, does God still call men and women to be faithful servants as Priests, Deacons, Religious and lay leaders? The answer to that question is yes, God still calls but we don’t always choose to answer the call. But if we don’t answer, we will never know what the call is about. Just as Eli, Samuel, John the Baptist, the first Apostles Peter and Andrew had a purpose in God’s plan of salvation, so do we; but we must answer the call first to find out.
Yours in Christ