Answering The Call
Today’s readings revolve around two themes: The call of the Lord to each of us and how we respond to that call .
Notice in the Gospel today that John’s disciples are prepared to hear God’s call. They are already looking for the Messiah, so they trust in John’s word and follow when he points out the Lamb of God walking by.
Samuel is also waiting on the Lord – sleeping near the Ark of the Covenant where God’s glory dwells, taking instruction from Eli, the high priest.
Samuel listened to God’s word and the Lord was with him. And Samuel, through his word, turned all Israel to the Lord. The disciples too, heard and followed – words we hear repeatedly in today’s Gospel. They stayed with the Lord and by their testimony brought others to the Lord.
But that is the top line – there is an even deeper story for each of us when we dig deeper into these readings.
What are you looking for?” Is actually one of the deepest question one person can ask another. To paraphrase, “What—really, down deep—are you seeking in your life? Power? Pleasure? Wealth? Relief from loneliness? Relief from pain, hunger? Knowledge? Truth? Love?” How do you answer this question right now?
“Where are you staying?”–when asked by persons who are curious about or attracted to Jesus—is a question that is really asking, “Where do you come from, Master? What is the source of your life? Who—really, down deep—are you?” For the word translated “stay,” menein, means something deeper than what is your address. In the Gospel of John this word refer to a person’s source of being and ultimate purpose.
And Jesus’ response–“Come and see” –really, when you know the whole story, means, “Follow me as a committed disciple and you will come to really see (understand and believe) in a whole new way.”
But do we do that in our lives? Do we ever question our relationship with God? Have we ever heard personally the Lord speaking to us? It could happen while we are before our Lord in Eucharistic adoration here at San Juan Bautista every Thursday, or praying the Rosary, or reading the Scriptures, or marveling at amazing scenery, or listening at Mass to the Word of God, proclaimed and preached to us. Have we ever genuinely said to God: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”?
Do we pay attention to the urgent invitation of the recent popes to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ in his Word, especially during the celebration of Holy Mass? Granted, it is far from easy nowadays to listen to God speaking to us in the noisy culture we live in, where the stories of violence and inhumanity, are rampant!
The Gospel reinforces the importance of the call of God, as John, the beloved disciple, relates in his own way, how Andrew and the other one (most probably John himself) met the Lord for the first time. John remembers vividly the moment of the encounter: “it was about four in the afternoon.” He and Andrew had previously been followers of John the Baptist, who himself pointed to Jesus, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.” First, they call Jesus “Rabbi” or Teacher, and Jesus invites them to “come and see” and to stay with him. And they remained with him that day.
Again, this begs the question: when we come to Mass as individuals or families, do we come to church, expecting to see the Lord and yearning to abide with him, as we listen attentively to his Word and then are united so intimately with him in Holy Communion? Notice that Andrew, right after his stay with Jesus, rushes to tell Simon Peter, his brother, “we have found the Messiah!” Jesus is no longer a mere “Teacher,” but in him, Andrew and John have found the Messiah, the long awaited Savior of Israel!
This is a tangible moment of grace for Andrew and John: they had experienced a powerful revelation, an unveiling of their eyes, a conversion of their heart, after responding to Jesus’ invitation to “come and see,” and taking time to abide with him. Andrew cannot contain his joyful eagerness to go and tell his brother about their encounter with the Messiah .Andrew brings his brother Simon to Jesus, who “looks at him” and calls him, “You are Simon, son of John; you will be called Cephas, which is translated Peter.”
When we are at Mass or when we are praying and/or reading God’s Word, do we allow Jesus to gaze at us, calling us by name and sending us on a mission? Every one of us has a unique mission, for, by baptism, we have been called to be “missionary disciples.”
Do we allow the Holy Spirit to stir up in us this calling to be a joyful and bold witness of the risen Lord Jesus in our own environment, in our family, at our workplace, among our friends, in our parish? Do we do everything we can to build up our parish in this community. Or do we simply take advantage of it being here for us on Sunday?
And then there are times that God seems to upset the apple cart. Suddenly we lose a loved one, or face financial ruin, or are grievously disappointed by a son or daughter or close relative, or face a terminal illness. Those are the times when we look for the Lord. Those are the times when our faith is most challenged. Those are the times when we wish we had that personal relationship with Jesus. And THESE are the times when we need to build it. Is Jesus there for us always? Of Course. But when we have taken the time to hear his call, when we have taken the time to live out his call in our daily lives, when we have taken the time to listen to God speaking to us, calling us by name, then our faith takes on a dimension that cannot be buttressed. It may get dented, or bruised, or even shaken for awhile, but our faith is as strong as we choose to make it. The choice is always there. The choice is yours. What is yours today?