You have been chosen. You have been called.

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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B: Jan. 15, 2012
1 Sam 3:3-10, 19; Ps 40; 1 Cor 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42

Can you imagine what it would have been like to be young Samuel that night, when he realized that it was the Lord himself speaking to him? And that this was the beginning of his calling to be a prophet—which would change the rest of his earthly life. How that night would have stood out in his memory! The night that everything changed.

Or can you imagine being the young shepherd boy David, when the much older Samuel came to anoint him as king of Israel? Or Moses, when the Lord asked him from the burning bush to set his people free? Or the Virgin Mary, when the angel Gabriel asked her to become the Mother of God? The disciples that Jesus encountered on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and said, “Come, follow me”? Or St. Paul, stopped on the road to Damascus by our Lord Jesus in heavenly glory?

To have received an invitation like that: directly from the Lord, some important mission that he wanted you personally to do? Would you possibly say no? And after that, everything about you and your life would be completely different.

No wonder St. Paul could write, “you are not your own … you have been purchased at a price.”

Do you think that happens anymore? That kind of calling; that kind of vocation? How often? To how many?

When I was about 8 years old, a woman who was a missionary to Africa visited the church my family attended. And her presentation of herself and her work motivated me, not only to want to give her some of my nickels and dimes; but to give myself to Christ personally, and to want to do some kind of special work for him like she did. Now, I did not think of becoming a priest; this was a Methodist church and I was being raised Protestant. There was no voice from heaven, no burning bush, no angel. And yet I now see this vocation as a hidden but living thing within me, moving me along a winding course to pursue certain things and avoid others—until 20 years later I was a Catholic discerning my vocation, and 10 years after that was a priest. And that vocation seems like the most real thing I know; and I continue to be guided forward as I seek to discern and to respond to what the Lord wants me to be and to do.

Brothers and sisters, I believe that each of you has a vocation just as living and persistent as mine, within you. Some of you know what I’m talking about; some of you don’t. How can I be confident of this? Because you have been baptized. And it is to all the baptized that St. Paul is speaking. “You have been purchased at a price,” he said—and the water that washed you clean from sin was the water that flowed from his side when his Sacred Heart was pierced upon the cross. “You are not your own”—for you were united with Christ in that moment, adopted in him as son or daughter of God the Father; and from then on, as St. Paul puts it, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

What are you called to? As the Second Vatican Council taught us (Lumen Gentium, 39), all the baptized are called to holiness—perfectly united with our Lord in goodness and in self-giving love.

But he does not leave it there, broad and vague, for us to try to figure out. Instead, he calls each of us to a particular state of life—as the crucible in which we will be stretched and grow to become more like him. What are those states of life? For most, the state of marriage and family; for some, priesthood or consecrated life. For in each of these vocations, we are joined in relationship to certain others, by permanent vows; and we are charged to love and serve them with Christ’s own love.

No matter how ordinary your life might seem, there is nothing ordinary about it. You are no ordinary husband and father; you are no ordinary wife and mother. Just as you are no ordinary employee, or homemaker, or student, or retiree. You are in the world but not of the world. You have been loved; you have been chosen; you have been changed; and you have been called and given a mission, to let Christ live his life in and through you.

Those disciples asked Jesus where he was staying—where he spent his time, what he valued, what his life was all about. He said, “Come and see.” And they did, and they stayed with him—changing their lives and their hearts to be with him. And soon Andrew was introducing his brother to Jesus. And soon Jesus was giving that brother a new name and a whole new life.

  • If you are young—boys and girls, young men and young women—then I want you to know that the Lord has called you to a very special life of love and service, that is exactly right for you. And I urge you to pray every day—perhaps pray one Hail Mary every day—asking the Lord to reveal to you what your vocation is.
  • If you are older—even if you have been married for many years—I urge you also to pray regularly about your vocation. Not so much to discover it for the first time, but so that it may continue to unfold and draw you forward each day. For your vocation is a beautiful mystery within you: God’s call, and yet your choice; using your strengths, and yet being stretched in your weaknesses. Foster it; cultivate it; pray regularly about it.
  • And, finally, did you notice, in the stories of calling in our readings today, the important assistance given by others? John the Baptist pointed to Jesus; Andrew brought his brother to him. And Eli helped young Samuel to recognize that it was the Lord calling him and to know what to do to respond. How often it works that way! So be alert and ready to help those around you to discern the vocation that the Lord has for them.

To do your will, O my God, is my delight. Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.

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