1/15/12, The Call

1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19  1 Cor 6:13c-15a, Jn 1:35-42

It is almost impossible to overlook the intended theme of the lectionary scriptures for today.  A call from God- an invitation to step into a new way of being in this life- is unmistakably present in both the Old Testament and the Gospel readings. We are invited to explore the nature of “call” in our own lives.  We are invited to challenge ourselves with the question of our own daring to step into a new way of being as we move further down the path of Christian discipleship.

The passage from I Samuel is a familiar story that many of us heard with delight when we were children.  As a young boy, Samuel hears the voice of God calling him in the night.  At first he assumes the call comes from the human authority that has shaped his life so far- the priest Eli. But through Eli himself, he learns that the voice calling to him is the inner voice of God. The proper response, says Eli, is to invite God’s continued communication and to be attuned to that voice with careful listening.   God’s calling to each person is uniquely fitted to the piece of God’s image that person bears.  Because our God is an infinitely BIG God, fulfilling one’s unique calling may look very different from one person to the next.  That means that one’s response of obedience may also look very different from one person to the next.

Shortly before Christmas, I received a message via e-mail from a man in CA who will always remain a close friend of mine.  Steve and his wife were instrumental in helping me to recognize God’s calling me into the Catholic tradition of Christian faith.  Steve himself became an ordained deacon in the Catholic Church and has maintained an active ministry to conservative Catholics. Steve’s message went like this We are odd friends, in a clear conflict with our call to obedience. But I do not deny the strong love that Christ has given me for you and for your welfare. So merry Christmas but even more, may the One Who sustains all things through the power of His word, He who breathes us into existence with His love, may He keep you close to Him always.  Deacon Steve

What voice do you listen to? Or are there perhaps too many voices that you listen to?  Have you been able to set into their proper places those voices of human authority that shaped your belief systems and character and values so that you are now maturely free to discern the voice of God calling you into new and expanded ways of living those beliefs and values?

The adult with a mature faith learns to hear the voice of God’s Spirit through a courageous response to a fully informed conscience. Check out your Catholic catechism for a review on this teaching!  Obedience to conscience, which is the voice of Spirit within us, is not always an easy matter to discern. Sometimes the way God has spoken to one person does not line up with the way another person has perceived the response of obedience in relationship to God.  As humans, we have limited perspective on the whole intention of God and the complex ways the Kingdom of God in its fullness is being worked out in the Body of Christ.  But we can trust that God’s intention will find fulfillment and that even when calls to obedience seem in clear conflict, we can continue to love one another and pray for a dissenter’s welfare.

We must not neglect the story of call that comes from Jesus himself in today’s gospel.  Jesus, having recently been affirmed in his own baptismal calling, finds himself followed by two men who are curious about John the Baptist’s identification of him as “The Lamb of God.”  When he turns and asks them what they are looking for, they give the rather obtuse and tongue-tied answer, “Where are you staying?”  Jesus is very gracious in his simple response, “Come and see.” The two followed him, and in fact, continued to follow even as they called others to join them.  Their response to the voice of call changed their lives.

In this brief episode we learn that responding to the call is an ongoing matter of lifetime commitment to listening and observing. The disciples were invited by Jesus to set foot to a journey path that would bring definition to the purpose of their lives.  They would listen to Jesus’ teachings and observe his actions, made in obedience to his heavenly Father.  In following Jesus, like him they would be called to a path of obedience that ran contrary to the religious authorities of their day.   In their obedient response, they would work out the unique piece of God’s image that they carried, and in so doing, they would be part of God’s redemptive, transformational plan for all humanity. 

This is the journey that the voice of Jesus invited disciples to make. Is there a Voice calling to which you need to give attention?  Do you hear the call to obedience?  Will you come and see?

by Sandi DeMaster