Hearing God’s Call.


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1     Sam 3: 3b-10, 19; 1 Cor 6: 13c-15a, 17-20; John 1: 35-42

Deacon Larry Brockman

Noise, noise, and more noise!  Busy, busy, all the day long!  Our lives are cluttered with noise and lots of activity.  Cell phones with ear buds; boom boxes; TV and radio; Pandora; U-tube; Facebook; twitter- you name it.  After school activities, club meetings, social groups, sports, and all kinds of go, go, go.  We are a generation of fast and furious; noise and activity.  And sometimes we don’t even have to get up and move around to find it.  But where is it all leading?  Do we really know; and do we even care?  And yet deep down we know- we know that we need meaning and purpose in our lives.  Not only that, we sense that the meaning and purpose must be deeper than just going through the motions of life.  But what is it? What is our meaning and purpose?     

The first thing we have to do to understand the meaning and purpose of our lives  Is to recognize that God is trying to communicate with us about just that.  In the first reading, we see young Samuel learning this lesson.  Samuel is dreaming about someone calling to him- but he doesn’t recognize who it is.  Not once, not twice, but three times he has the same dream.   And only with the help of Eli does Samuel recognize it for what it truly is- God calling him and asking him to listen to him in a dream.   

Now let’s hold on to that thought for a moment and talk about it because some of you are probably thinking- “Is God trying to talk to me in my dreams”?  Maybe, and maybe not, but you see, that isn’t the point.  The point is that whether it is a dream; a funny feeling or fleeting impression when we are awake; something we read; something we see; or something we experience; whatever it might be- God is trying to talk to us all the time.  But we need to be open to it; we need to listen to him.   

The other day, my wife and I watched the film “About Schmidt”.  The main character in the film, Warren Schmidt, was ably played  by Jack Nicholson.  Warren saw a TV add called “Child Reach”, calling for folks to sponsor a poor child in the third World for $22 a month.  Moved by compassion, Warren sponsors a child named Ndugu.  Now Warren is a man who holds it all in,  and doesn’t have anyone to share his anger or frustration with.  He retires after having devoted his life to his job at the expense of spending time with his family.  Then he discovers he wasn’t appreciated by his company; loses his wife; and finds himself frustrated by his daughter’s choice of a mate.   And so, throughout the film, we hear Warren venting his anger in letters to his foster-child Ndugu.  At the end of the film, Warren is feeling very, very discouraged and despondent.  He doesn’t see the value in his life.  And then, all of a sudden, he gets a letter from Ndugu’s teacher who talks about how much Warren’s sponsorship has meant and how much Ndugu loves him.  Ndugu has also sent a crayon drawing.  It shows a smiling Ndugu linked hand in hand with Warren, and a great big bright sun shining in the background.  And Warren cries, because he can see that he has made a difference after all.

It is just a story, yes; but the point is clear.  God nudges, cajoles, and whispers to us all the time.  And some of the time, we are not even conscious that we have responded.  But the little voice inside has made its mark, and we do things responding to our call by God.  These things are part of God’s plan, and they can make a big difference.  How much more dramatic it would be if we actually listened to God all the time and made that our focus because God is talking to us like that all the time.  How, you say; I don’t hear anything?   

Well, it happens when you are watching a key football game and someone calls and asks you for help; it happens when you plan a getaway weekend, but your 3 year comes down with the flu and it also happens when you face a decision, and feel that little voice inside tell you to do the right thing rather than the easy thing or the popular thing.  Then again, it can be when you are in the Adoration Chapel quietly praying and reflecting; or when you are here at Mass.  And yes, it can even happen when you analyze one of your dreams.  But the point is that it is happening all the time.  God is calling you to do his thing for you.   

Second, the message God has for you is personal, much more personal than you might think.  Samuel’s message was certainly in that category; and so was the message to the Apostles in the Gospel.  When we read how God called people in the Bible, or when we hear stories about great saints who have responded to God’s call like St. Paul or Mother Theresa or Saint Francis, it was personal; it was directed to them, and the specifics of that call weren’t for us.   Our calls are personal as well.  And likely they are right there unfolding for us- right in front of us- like helping the friend in the middle of the key football game; or tending to our sick child instead of the weekend getaway, or not going along with the crowd when we know it’s wrong.

The fact that God is calling us to something right in front of us is both a relief and a challenge.  It is a relief because more often than not, we are not being asked to make a drastic change in our lives.  Rather, we are just being asked to be a little more sensitive; a little more giving in our own situations.  But it is a challenge, because it means making a sacrifice, the kind of sacrifice that involves putting our personal goals on the back burner.   


Our gospel today demonstrates this so well.  These men that became Apostles were called quietly one by one.  And they left to follow Jesus.  It all started out slowly, but ended up changing their lives forever in the long run.   


As you begin your new year, now is the perfect time for you to listen carefully for God’s voice in your lives.  If you can stop the train you are on, and go to the Chapel to reflect- that would be great.  But God is still calling you in the noise and clutter of life.  So, listen for it; be ready for it.  Put aside the cell phone or TV or other forms of self-absorption when the call comes.  Make a sacrifice; say “Speak your servant is listening”.  And God will say to you:  “Come and see”. 


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