Monday, January 26, 2009

'What would we do if God called us?'

Homily for the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time, 2009

When we get phone calls, we all react differently, depending on who is calling and what the phone call is about. Sometimes we are excited to get a call and sometimes we might be nervous. Sometimes we want to answer the phone and sometimes we don’t. What would we do if God called us? Well, he does call us.

In today’s Gospel, Our Lord called some members of the Apostolic College. The Latin word for “calling” is “vocare." Just as Jesus called the disciples, he calls all of us, and we all have a vocation, no matter who we are, no matter what age we are. Also, it is never, ever too late to answer God’s call. God has eternal call-waiting.

What qualities did Jesus seek when he called Andrew, Simon, James, and John to help him in his mission as Saviour and Redeemer? He looked for people used to hard work and people who have been through life’s struggles. So that’s something you have in common with the disciples, and that’s a pretty good deal.

They could have refused to serve Our Lord because they might not have felt ready or suited or at a disadvantage compared so those to whom they would preach. But they gave generously of themselves and surrendered to Our Lord and trusted in Our Lord and put themselves completely at His disposal. They didn’t know what was going to happen, but they trusted Our Lord and surrendered to Him. So should we.

You know what the meaning of life is? St. Ignatius of Loyola wrote that it is this: to “praise, reverence, and serve God.” That’s it — pretty simple. God calls all of us to participate in his saving work of kindness and mercy.

When we call someone, we don’t talk to every person the same way, say the exact same things, and propose the same activities to the persons on the other end. We adapt to each person according to age, disposition, their needs, their sensitivities, senses of humor, and so on. We might need to have someone pick up groceries, we might need to be encouraged, we may need to have our broken heart soothed, share sadness, tell a funny story, or we may simply want others to pass along some good news.

Our Lord does the same thing. He calls each of us in a different way according to our personality. Like the cells in a body, we have a function in the body of Christ, and we are all nourished by the Eucharist which gives us the strength that we need to carry on our Lord’s work.

We need to ask ourselves: how am I answering my call from Our Lord? Often when we think of the Holy Spirit calling us, we think of a lightning bolt or some earth-shattering event that gets our attention. But God calls us, like he called the prophet Elijah, in that still, small voice. That voice is inside of us, and it is called a conscience, hopefully a well-formed conscience that conforms to Catholic faith and all the Church’s teachings.

We often want to know what God’s will is in our lives. Just the fact that we desire to know his will is a sign that we are cooperating with God’s will. God’s will is in our desires — that is, our holy desires.

We all have a calling — in the big picture and in the everyday activities of our lives. Perhaps it is to prayer; it might be being a witness to the Catholic faith in your profession in some way; it may be entering public life and being a faithful Catholic as a public servant. It might be praying the Rosary every day; it may be helping a handicapped person getting to Mass, it may be visiting the sick or elderly or saying a kind word to someone in need of encouragement. It may be volunteering in the parish for any number of charitable activities. You may be called to marriage, to the single life, to the religious life or to the priesthood. We are to answer the call of Christ the King every day and to obey our Lord’s instruction to always repent.

The very best way to answer his call is by being here at Mass. You don’t know what the graces are that He gives you and that you communicate to others for your being here at Mass today. You are answering the call to give thanks as Jesus gave thanks to the Heavenly father and to eat the bread of the Angels, the food from the side of eternity.

God’s on the line right now. How are you going to answer Him?

Father Raftis is co-author of "Standing for the Unborn."