Monday, January 19, 2015

Speak Lord, for your Servant is Listening.

Homily for Sunday, January 18, 2015
Second Sunday of Ordinary Time - B
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

    How often have we said those words ourselves?  I mean, they are THE WORDS that we use most often to show a response to the call to discipleship – “Speak Lord, for your servant is LISTENING.” 
    But It can be really hard to hear God.  God doesn’t usually shout at us, but speaks to us in whispers.  It’s not like we get a call or text message on our phone; and the last time I checked, Jesus hadn’t “friended” me on Facebook. I don’t think He even has a Twitter account, and I know He doesn’t follow mine – I know all eight of those who do.  If he doesn’t reach out and touch me using the latest in technology, how do I know He’s talking to me?
    And even if we think God is calling to us, those closest to us might be interfering with God’s call.  In today’s first reading, Samuel hears God’s call but doesn’t know what it is; he turns to his boss – his mentor – Eli, thinking that it must be him who is calling to him in the middle of the night.  Eli, a man of God whose life is focused on serving God, tells him to “go back to sleep”.  I can understand.  If my kid woke me up in the middle of the night saying, “Here I am, you called me”, I would respond in the same way, “You’re dreaming.  Go back to sleep – and leave me alone.”  I still do that with my dogs – but then again I’m sure God isn’t calling them.
    And I’m really sure it He isn’t talking to me in most of my dreams – especially that weird one about the movie Sharknado.
    But God is calling us.  Every day.  If we listen, we can hear it in the stories we read, the people we meet. 
    Still, there are lots of distractions in our lives that keep us from recognizing God’s call to us.  Even in church.  Noisy distractions from children; cell phones that haven’t been turned off, all those thoughts about what we need to do after Mass.  We become impatient and our mind gets so busy that we forget that we are supposed to be listening for God.
    And do we listen when we pray?  Sometimes we rattle off saying the Rosary like a machine gun -  HailMaryFullOfGraceTheLordIsWithYou…  A friend of mine tells a story about a man who wants to buy a horse.  He asks the owner if he would sell this horse, and the owner says, “I’ll give you the horse if you can say the Lord’s Prayer without interruption.  The man replies, “OurFatherWhoArtInHeavenDoesTheSaddleComeWithTheHorse…”
    Let’s face it.  We live in a world today that is full of distractions and noise and busy-ness that it takes an extra effort to hear God’s call.
    So, can we prepare ourselves to hear God’s Call?  How? Quiet Time.  Making time for the Lord.  Prayer.  Inviting Jesus into our hearts.

“Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

    We invite God to speak to us, but do we really mean it?  Are we really listening?   Sometimes I think we say that but we really don’t expect or even want an answer.  I mean, it’s kind of like meeting a person and saying, “Hi, how are you?”  If we’re even listening for a response, -- and frankly, most of the time I think we don’t – we expect to hear, “Fine” or “OK”, or something equally quick, but we get uncomfortable hearing, “Terrible” or “You don’t want to know.”   Or worse, we dread having someone launch into a long litany of complaints that hold us hostage or that drag us down.  Even worse than that, is that we will hear an invite to do something that makes us uncomfortable – go somewhere, help someone – DO SOMETHING.
    And I thinK that with our invitation to God, we are afraid of just exactly that.  Look at Mark’s Gospel.  Jesus says, “Come and you will see” and they drop everything and go with Jesus.  Jesus says, “Follow me”, and away they go.
    How about you?  What would it take for you to drop everything and walk away from it?  Job, car, family – leave it all behind and head off with just the clothes on your back, following a charismatic preacher? 
    Maybe a more important question should be, “Does it require you to ABANDON everything in your life to follow Jesus?”
    I think the answer is, “NO”.  God has a plan for each of us and has provided us with the gifts and the graces that He knows we need to accomplish that purpose.  But that DOESN’T mean that God isn’t calling to us to follow Him.
    Pope Francis recently said, to the effect, that being called doesn’t mean we have to change “who” we are, but how we use who we are to respond to God’s call.
And We MUST respond to that call.
    Yesterday during the Memorial Events for the Roe v. Wade anniversary, we heard a wake-up call.  The call to love one another; the call to serve one another.
Opportunities abound for us to respond.  Yesterday’s ProLife events gave us an opportunity to respond.  The various ministries here at St. Francis give us an opportunity to respond.  There are stories in the news every day that offer opportunities to respond.  But in order to know how to respond, we must listen for God’s personal call to us.

    But you know, being “Called” doesn’t just mean that God is telling us what to do. Think about when we “call” someone.  It isn’t just to tell them to do something;  we call others to see how they are doing, to share something that has happened to us or someone we know, to ask them a question – or maybe just to tell them we love them.  God’s call is all of these – and more.
    And one of God’s most important calls is the Mass.  It is a celebration of God’s Love for us, and it is an opportunity for us to share stories, enjoy fellowship – and to listen for God’s personal messages to us.  It is a family gathering,  and we must fight the tendency to think of it as a place that we are obligated to go instead of an opportunity to spend time with family.  Like a family, our church communities can be messy, demanding – even boring – but we should never forget that they are bound together with Love – God’s love. 
    God calls us in Love, as family.  Every call from God is one of love.  If you think God is calling you, think about if that call is about love.  If there’s no love in the call, then it isn’t from God.
    But what if you are alone?  You are still family, and maybe the call you receive from God is to reach out to others in the family who are lonely too.  You’d visit a family member who was sick, wouldn’t you?  The number one illness in our country today is loneliness.  Do not be afraid to answer the call Share your love with strangers. Then, accept God’s love.
    God calls us at inconvenient times but always with a loving message.  If we are too preoccupied, we may miss the message.  Take time to LISTEN.
    And then you can say,  “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”