Posts Tagged ‘Hearing the Call’

Points of No Return

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Kgs 19: 16b, 19-21; Gal 5: 1, 13-18; Lk 9: 51-62

Deacon Larry Brockman

A point of no return.  That’s what Jesus is talking about.   

We saw it demonstrated in our first reading about Elijah and Elisha.  Elisha was chosen by the Lord to replace Elijah.  He had a choice- to follow or not.  But if he followed, he would pass beyond a point of no return.  Because once we find God’s will for us, there is no going back and forth from our calling to our former way of life.  God wants us to make a commitment and follow his will for us without reservation.   

Each of us goes through an initial stage in life when life is all about us.  It is natural and a consequence of our human nature.  And during our lives, we go through transitions that lead us to a more and more mature state.  First, we are infants, then toddlers, then children, then young adults.  And at each stage in our development, we learn to move beyond the earlier stage and not look back.  Each such stage in life transitions us to less preoccupation with ourselves, and more interaction with either the world around us or the people around us or both.   

Then, most of us fall in love and marry someone special- someone that we accept just the way they are.  We are willing to sacrifice ourselves at the expense of our loved one.  We are in love with them.   

And because we are made in the image and likeness of God, that love propagates itself in the children we bear which is like the Spirit of God that reaches out and extends beyond God to touch others.  

And so, we transition to yet another stage- the parenting stage in which our love extends not just to our parents and spouse but now to children and eventually grandchildren.  And as we transition, there is no looking back. We are on a continual progression of growth that moves us beyond.   We cannot afford to look back; we need to move forward.   

Well in parallel with these human growth stages, we also experience spiritual growth as well.  Initially our experiences are limited to this world.  But God touches each of us continually with His Spirit.  We become more and more aware of the beauty that has been forged by our creator.  And we consider the limits of worldly existence.  All of us come to the conclusion that we will die some day.  All of our ancestors have, and we are no different.   

And so, we seek the ultimate purpose in life.  Is there an author to life?  What is my relationship with Him?  Will I live beyond this life, and in what way?  Many of us seek more and more knowledge about God.  Hopefully, we progress beyond knowledge about God and begin to feel God’s presence in our lives.   

As we develop that relationship with our creator, we are moved by His Spirit.  And that Spirit moves us to seek and find God’s will for us.  Most of us discover that we are already in the middle of God’s plan for us because we have been blessed with our spouse; with certain talents, with certain limitations, and with certain desires.  These things are all well and good.    But then, and at varying times in our lives, we sense that God has something special in mind for us.  We are called by him for something out of the ordinary for us.  We are called to put aside the goals that we have for ourselves, and endeavor to help others.  For most of is, it is not a life changing call; for others it is.   

But whenever we follow that call- to be there for a friend in need; to care for a sick loved one; to teach Sunday School; to volunteer in some capacity; to visit the sick or the interned; or to do something truly extraordinary as Mother Theresa was called to do, we cannot look back.  We need to look forward and focus on God’s nudge lest we derail ourselves. 

That’s what Elijah did; whereas the man in the Gospel is holding back just a little.  We cannot hold back because life is full of points of no return.   

The ultimate point of no return is our death in this world.  For those who have not looked back; there will be a guaranteed place in the kingdom of God for them. 

Hearing the Call

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
Col 1: 9-14; Luke 5: 1-11
Dc. Larry Brockman

Sometimes we have to be hit over the head to wake up to God’s message in our lives. I think that is what happened to Peter, James, and John in today’s Gospel.

These three- Peter, James, and John- were fisherman by trade. They knew that the best time to fish was at night- not during the day; they knew the best places to fish in the lake- and they weren’t necessarily in the deep water.

And so after working hard all night for naught, while repairing their nets, they listened to Jesus preach. This context is important; because Jesus was a near stranger to them at this point. Then Jesus asks them to take him a short distance into the lake so all in the crowd can hear him. In a recent book, Fr. James Martin describes the actual scene, which he visited first hand. He makes the point that it was a natural amphitheater, a place where the acoustics would have been good on the shore. Everybody would have been able to hear- the whole reason Jesus wanted Peter to take him out there.

And so, this simple fisherman aids the stranger Jesus. And then something truly extraordinary happens. Jesus asks Simon to go into the deep water for a catch. And Simon Peter followed Jesus’ direction. He was clearly skeptical about the whole idea. And yet, the results were truly astounding to Simon and his partners. So many fish that the nets were tearing.

Let us reflect for a moment about just what was going through Simon Peter’s mind as he listened to Jesus preach. Here’s a person gainfully employed in his trade- probably a family trade. He was there at the lake to engage in his trade- not for any other reason. He wasn’t looking for anything different in life. But along comes this preacher, Jesus. He may as well listen while he repairs his net, kind of like we listen to the radio while we work some menial task. Perhaps Jesus’ teaching impressed him; perhaps not. He might have felt a tinge of conscience- something that made him uneasy. But, he was committed to the nets and his job. Out of courtesy he helps Jesus by taking him offshore. Even though he was skeptical, he goes into the deep for a catch. I suspect it was in reaction to the clear tone of authority of the preacher that motivated Simon to help Jesus.

But it was the miracle of the fish that changed him forever- it was like being hit over the head. It was as if he realized that even though Jesus was addressing the whole crowd; it was he, Simon Peter, who Jesus was talking directly to. He, Simon Peter and his two partners were being asked to change their lives forever. In the other Gospels they were asked to become fishers of men. They left everything and followed Jesus.

In the first reading, Paul tells the Colossians that he does not cease praying for them and asking: “That you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing” to Him. The knowledge of God’s will. That’s what suddenly happened to Peter, James, and John. Whereas they listened to the sermon as passive bystanders; they came away committed to changing their lives in accordance with the will of God. They had been given knowledge of God’s will.

None of us are exempt from the same experience sometime in our lifetimes. All of us either are being, or have already been, called by the Lord to something. Sometimes we have to be hit over the head to realize it. A disaster, an illness, an impossible business situation, or any number of other things can happen to us. Rather than dwell on the negative, look for God’s will in such situations. We may have to change; maybe even a whole lot. But rest assured that if you respond to God by discerning His will You will be ready to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing” to Him.

On Wakeup Calls

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time

Blessed Theresa of Calcutta

Col 1: 9-14; Luke 5: 1-11

Dc. Larry Brockman


An “aha” experience!  That’s what happened to the Apostles in this morning’s Gospel.

Picture the scene again in your mind.  You wake up early in the morning to go to work, just like any other day.  You work hard as a Fisherman most of the early morning hours,but catch absolutely nothing.  And then, this stranger asks you to pull your boat out again.  You are weary- but decide to be nice and comply.  So out you go.  This stranger uses your boat to preach to a crowd.  You listen, but you are a fisherman; you’re not looking for something new.  When he finishes, he asks you to lower your nets.  Now you are cynical, thinking- “Like yeah, I’ve fished all night and nothing; and now this preacher wants me to try again.”  Only before you know it, the nets are heavy with fish.  This is something special; this is extraordinary!  This man must be special and maybe I should listen to him.  You have had an “aha” experience.  And your life will never be the same.

You see, God called these simple fishermen to a different life.  Granted, it was a loud, unmistakable call rather than a quiet, soft nudge.  But they left everything right there, and followed Jesus.  They didn’t have to, you know.  They could have reveled in the wealth of fish they had just caught, and said, “Thank you sir, but we’ve got to get these fish to market.”  That would have meant they were into doing their own.   They didn’t do that though; they dropped everything and followed Jesus.

Fast forward 2000 years now to another incident.  It is another kind of calling, but an “aha” experience none the less.  A nun is travelling on a train in India in 1946.  More than a decade earlier she had devoted her life to teaching as a nun.  But a quiet little voice inside tells her that she should drop everything and go out into the streets and minister to the poor.  She could have gone on with life as well.  After all, she was already living a life of service.  But, she regarded the message of the little voice as an order, not a request.  We know her as Mother Theresa.  And Blessed Mother Theresa’s feast day is today.

During the course of our lives, we will hear loud voices and soft voices and everything in between calling us, begging for our attention.  They could be the voice of God.  They could be our “aha” experience.

The darnedest thing about these aha experiences is that they will come at the most inconvenient times.   They come when we are busy and just can’t afford to listen; they come when we have finally just gotten the opportunity to relax; and they even come via people we would rather not have anything to do with.  That’s the way God works because he wants us to stretch for him, to drop everything and follow.  They come at various stages of life because we are always being called to grow, no matter how much growth we have already had!

And so, be on the lookout for these calls.  They aren’t necessarily life changing experiences like they were for the Apostles and Mother Theresa.  Most of them are less dramatic than that.  They are nudges toward God’s will for us- an inclination to help a stranger in need; a sudden impulse to do something special- like attend an Emmaus retreat or visit the Perpetual Adoration Chapel.  But they are rich opportunities to get to know the Lord.  And they are sources of pure joy for those who respond to them.

If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.