Getting the Call

by Father Robert Pultz

How many times have we heard the phrase, "There's a call for you"?

We live in a time when not being able to send and receive phone calls is becoming a thing of the past.

People who travel frequently have digital cellular phones so that they can call from anywhere.

Some parents have their children wear beepers in order to keep in touch with them.

In shopping malls, cars, theaters and restaurants we will often see someone on a "call".

Even in church . . . funerals, weddings, holy communion

We seem to take the getting of calls very seriously, and at the same time, we also take them for granted.

For example, a long-distance call is no longer remarkable.

Yet no matter how nonchalant we may be about getting messages, the middle of the night ringing of the phone still makes ~-many of us sit up quickly with anticipation or frustration.

The word "call" conveys many different meanings.

We call a family member at work to say "Bring home a litre of milk".

We call on friends, call the children for lunch, lawyers get called to the bar, call someone on something they've said, hear the call of the wild, or feel called by God.

And in all these uses of the word "call" something is the same in that some type of communication is taking place. In today's first reading, we are presented with the story of the boy Samuel being called by God.

When God calls Samuel, he is oblivious as to the significance of what is happening, yet is immediately responsive: he runs to see what Eli wants of him.

It falls to Elie to help Samuel understand who was calling in the night.

When Eli finally realized that it was the Lord calling, he instructed Samuel as to the response he should make:

"Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening."

Samuel's call was precisely that: a "call".

Not a summons, nothing frightening nor demanding, but an invitation: the gentle repetition of the young man's name.

Yet, its effect was quite powerful:

"Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him... "

Today's gospel passage tells of another call which did not fall to the ground, but rather on willing and open ears.

As Eli helped Samuel recognize God in his life, so did John the Baptist help two of his own disciples recognize Jesus by pointing out Jesus to them.

Jesus gives the two men an invitation "Come and see."

The men respond by spending time with Jesus, and came to see for themselves that this was indeed the Lamb of God, as John had testified.

Andrew recognized that something important was happening, and he rushed to tell his brother Simon that they had found the Messiah.

Finding his brother, Andrew "brought Simon to Jesus".

The essence of discipleship is exactly that: TO BRING OTHERS TO TESUS.

The meeting of Simon and Jesus is unforgettable: Simon's name is changed by Jesus, a sure sign in the ancient world, of a change of destiny, a new direction in life.

Those called by the Lord in today's readings answered with their whole lives; they entered into a new understanding of and relationship with God.

People of faith today know that God continues to act in the world, God continues to call those who listen.

We are called to work with God in the ongoing creation of the world and in the building up of the reign of God.

But maybe too often our world is cluttered with unnecessary noise and like Samuel we do not always recognize God's voice.

We are inundated with so many calls on a daily basis, that it is often difficult to discern what is important and what is not.

We leave the television on, even when no one is watching.

We turn on the radio behind our conversion with a friend.

We disturb our neighboring by playing music loudly in public or using our car horns instead of getting out and ringing the door bell.

Sometimes we create so much noise it is hard for us to get to sleep.

In order to hear God's call, we need time for reflection, time apart from hectic activity to listen to the voice that echoes deep within.

Like Samuel and like the disciples in the gospel, we need the help of others to recognize the call.

We may benefit from the help of a wise honest friend or spiritual guide to help us understand the significance of what we are experiencing as we begin to listen to what God is calling us.

Eli gave Samuel some very simple advice: LISTEN.

If God is trying to speak to you, listen. Tell God you are listening!

Like Samuel, God calls each of us by name, gently but persistently. In our eucharist today, let us then thank God for the grace of the call in baptism given to each one of us.

May we listen and respond wholeheartedly for the Lord says to each one of us:

"Fear not, for 'I have called you by name, you are mine'" (Isaiah 43:1)

Now and for ever and ever.

Amen.