January 18, 2015
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
We tend to think of our “call” as those few, but major, vocational choices in life – the big things like becoming a nun, getting married, or pursuing a career. But “the call” in today’s readings tell us something different. Samuel’s call from the Lord was simply…to listen! Andrew’s call was to “come and see”. Samuel’s call from God was not “Samuel, be a judge for Israel” or “Your vocation is to be a prophet”. Rather, through fidelity to this one action of listening, all these other things would unfold. If he had not been faithful to this call to listen, he never would have become a judge or prophet. These were secondary and contingent on that initial call…his first and foremost task was to listen. He did turn out to be the last judge for Israel and a prophet, but what made him great was his unwavering obedience and his loyalty to God. Samuel never let what other people thought of him sway him from what he heard God speak. In his daily life Samuel spoke what God spoke.
Then we have Andrew’s call to “come and see”. He followed and found where Jesus dwelt, and from that moment on he spent the rest of his life “staying” with Jesus…and “remaining” in Jesus. For we learn through Andrew’s example that if we want to know the mind of Christ, we need to stay close to His Heart. Everything in Samuel and Andrew’s daily life was based on this initial call: to listen, to see, and to remain.
Jesus had a call as well, and it too, was simply to listen…to listen to His Father. Jesus will tell his disciples near the end of his earthly life: “Everything I told you I heard from my Father.” (Jn 15:15) His call was made up of dwelling and remaining in the Father: “I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love” and he asks us to do the same. (Jn 15:10)
So again, this is not a one-time choice but a daily living. Our daily lectio helps to foster in us a listening heart. Our whole life is one of remaining in Jesus and seeing Him everywhere in our daily life. We are called to choir seven times a day in order to bring us continuously back to this “dwelling in Him”. When we are faithful to this call, we help others to be called to this listening, seeing, and remaining in Christ…not by preaching but by our daily actions, example, and prayer…for love’s energy always ripples outward.
So all of us have the same call no matter what we are doing. If we are a nun or married or a waitress – our call is still to listen to Christ, to see and find Christ, and to remain in Him. But I think to answer this call we need to have three important qualities. We need to live this call as best we can, with much love, and with gratitude. For us, it is a call to live our monastic life with focused discipline and attentiveness that carries with it a cheerful disposition. God loves a cheerful giver. It also requires that we put love into everything…and to always be thankful.
--So am I making a cheerful effort to live the common life as the community requests?
--Do I show love through gentle actions and polite words? Am I approachable? Available?
--And, am I grateful for my monastic call? For my life as it is? It is good to remember that it is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful. So we need to cultivate this sense of graciousness if we want to be joyful, loving, and life-giving. What do I convey in my daily life?
But let us shift our focus now and look in Scripture where a calling went terribly bad! God called out to Adam, “Where are you?” But Adam did not want to listen to God’s voice, or to see Him, and so he hid in the garden! Adam listened, not to God’s voice, but to the serpent’s. This one act of hiding violated all three callings: to listen, to see, and to remain in God. But this calling of God to Adam, the father of the human race, is a universal one. All humanity is asked this question. And note that it is God who takes the initiative to seek Adam. The Lord calls out, “Where are you?” as if to say “I want to be with you! I want to remain with you!” Charles Vaughan, talking about Adam’s call said, “’Where are you’ is a call, first, to attention. It is as though God had said, “Listen to Me”. That is the first step in all religion. What we want first is a spirit of attention.” (end quote)
But God is not asking, where are you physically - as in a place in the garden (or the monastery) - but where are you within? Where is your heart? Where is your mind? Where is your attention? For we know it is possible to sit before God’s Presence and still be like Adam - hiding! To pray is to be vulnerable enough to open our eyes, ears, minds, and hearts to whatever God wants to speak to us this day. In prayer we come and see, we listen, and we remain with Christ. Those same qualities about our call can be applied also to our life of prayer. When listening in prayer do I have focused discipline (or at least try the best I can)? Do I “come and see” with a loving heart that is available and approachable? When in prayer do I remain in Him with a thankfulness that creates joy within me? Where does my prayer leave me?!
So today, like Samuel, let us sit in prayer and listen to God calling out our name…what do you hear? And how will you respond? Like Andrew, let us see Jesus in our prayer asking us “what are you looking for?”…What will be your response? Let us always try our best to be attentive to this invitation from the Lord, for as Benedict says, “What could be more delightful than the voice of the Lord calling to us”!
1 Sam 3:3-10,19 and Jn 1:35-42