The theme of the readings this week is crystal clear: God calls us. If we had ears we would hear God calling all day long. He calls adults, children, sick people, people at work, people on holidays, sinful people, holy people. God never stops calling - all day long - and sometimes during the night too.
We don’t always realise that it is God; Samuel thought it was Eli calling him.
When mum or dad asks for help with the dishes or the gardening children can be tempted to think that it’s only mum or dad calling; and mum and dad can think: it’s only the boss telling me to turn up to work on time. Young couples might say: Oh, it’s only the Church that wants us to behave in this way - and all the time it’s God calling.
Eli then understood that it was the Lord who was calling ….
- God calls us individually and by name - Samuel! Samuel!
The Lord calls us the same way he loves us – as individuals. We are not called en masse and we are not saved en masse. We are saved one by one. The Lord desires from me the one thing I alone can give him – a relationship with me. No one else can give him my yes! He wants to hear it from my lips alone. And so also with you; only you can give him your yes.
It's always amusing when people say they have a sister a nun, or a brother a priest, and yet they themselves don’t practise. We will be saved on the basis of our relationship with the Lord, not by our association with someone else who has a relationship with the Lord. Even if we are the Pope’s brother or sister we will never sneak in to heaven in someone else’s shadow.
- God calls repeatedly - Samuel! Samuel! Samuel! Samuel! Samuel! Samuel!
How patient God is! He calls until we say yes at a deeper and deeper level; on and on he goes, calling us deeper and deeper into a life of love and service.
'Are you ready today to say yes to me, to give up that sin, to respond to your neighbour’s need, to make that long overdue confession, to begin being faithful to the Sunday Mass, to change your ways, to give yourself to me?' Over and over he calls, stubbornly refusing to listen to our excuses because he never stops believing in us.
- God calls us to get up.
It’s not surprising that the Lord called when Samuel was lying in the sanctuary of the Lord. Last Wednesday the Gospel saw Jesus taking Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand and helping her up. And what will we hear him saying to Jonah in next Sunday’s reading? Let me read it for you. The word of the Lord was addressed to Jonah: ‘Up!’ he said ‘Go to Nineveh, …’
So many of us Catholics are doing the same thing as Samuel did. We are asleep in the sanctuary of our faith, dozing. The Lord is calling the whole Catholic world to get up on its feet but he is doing it person by person. Right now he is calling each one of us.
What is he calling us to today here in this little parish? I believe he is calling each one of us to rediscover our identity as evangelisers; he is calling us to get up and call others.
In the Gospel we see that the Lord called Andrew and that it was Andrew who went and called his brother Simon to come and meet Jesus. That’s evangelisation; when we bring our brothers and sisters to Jesus!
By and large we have fallen asleep at the wheel in this regard, we are missing in action, and not only the Church but the whole world is suffering the consequences. Evangelisation is an immense and exciting task. God is waiting for my yes, he is waiting for yours.
Samuel answered, Speak, Lord, your servant is listening, and went on to become a mighty instrument of God. It is not beyond us to do the same.