for Sunday, February 10, 2019
Jesus calls people to follow Him- and we also recognize that He is calling us. The call of the Lord comes in many ways: through dramatic inner visions as in the call of Isaiah or through the simple actions that we hear in the Gospel today-which are still miraculous-or through the preaching of others as we hear in the second reading, from the First Letter to the Corinthians. The call of God to his people is persistent and perennial.
Jack London wrote about another compelling call in his 1903 novel The Call of the Wild. Multiple film adaptations of the book follow the adventures of a dog, Buck, that is kidnapped and then brought north to Canada to be exploited as a sled dog. Buck is loyal and heeds the call of his final kind and trustworthy owner, John Thornton. But, ultimately, Buck follows the call of his primordial instinct and learned experience as a sled dog to emerge as a leader in the wild among a pack of wolves. Calls are powerful in animals and humans. Within the monastery monks discern calls, too, and understand that the most awesome call is the one from God.
The Prophet Isaiah describes how God touched his mouth. The call of this prophet begins with a heavenly liturgy. It is not clear whether this is an inner vision of Isaiah or a strong dream or some other way of perceiving the reality. On the other hand, it is clear that Isaiah takes it as God reaching into his personal life and cleansing him so that he can proclaim God's word to others. Because of this awareness of being cleansed and purified, Isaiah feels that he can be a mouthpiece to be sent by the Lord to His People.
We can note three things about this Divine call: it comes from God, there is a purification and cleansing, and, finally, there is a willingness on the part of the one who is called to respond with assent.
Saint Paul in his First Letter to the Corinthians speaks about his personal call to serve the Lord. It also comes directly from God (Even knocking him to the ground!), it purifies him (making him aware of God's plans in a way he had never thought of before) and Paul becomes willing to follow the Lord. To this is added: "For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective".
We can sometimes feel unworthy of the call from God, but that's okay! When a person becomes keenly aware of his utter dependence on God, his unworthiness, and God's infinite mercy, he is on a holy path to a greater intimacy with the source of his life. God called and continues to call some unworthy characters: King David, Mary Magdalene, the penitent thief at Our Lord's Crucifixion, Dismas, you, and me. Doesn't this give us all hope for our salvation, the ultimate reunion with God the Father? Or, do you doubt the call?
Peter doubts the words of Jesus commanding him to drop his nets, but, nonetheless, does Jesus' bidding. It is because Peter obeys that he discovers the presence of God, is humbled, and then follows Jesus. James and John seem to display little resistance to the call of Our Lord.
We are called by our baptism to follow the Lord. We are purified, regularly in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And, yes, we will have doubts. But, in obedience to the Word, we can encounter the Living God.
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 6.1-2a, 3-8
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15.1-11
Gospel: Luke 5.1-11
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: