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Contemplating the call

Tonight I’ve been going over the readings for tomorrow, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), and, since I’m the contrarian sort, was trying to think of something other than the expected theme.  Sometimes you run into readings and you can virtually guarantee what the homily will be because the theme is so singular and clear; I do not suggest this as a bad thing at all, but it does make the RCIA “breaking open the word” segment difficult.  The last thing I want to do is drag people out from Mass only to tell them all over again what the priest just said in his homily.

So … what do I expect to hear from these readings?  I expect we’ll hear something about how we’re all called by Christ and possibly even to notice that the disciples’ response was total and immediate.  That pretty much covers the Gospel.  So I went digging around and lo and behold this story, while appearing in all four Gospels, is told slightly differently.  In Matthew and Mark Jesus calls to Andrew and Peter from the shore and they respond; in John (from which this Sunday’s reading is taken) Andrew comes to find Simon and Jesus upon seeing him gives him the name Peter; in Luke, Jesus sets out in Simon’s boat and after a miraculous catch of fish Peter proclaims both that Jesus is Lord and that he, Simon, is a sinner.  I don’t think this is just an artifact of different writers and different audiences.  What is this telling us?

While I’m no Biblical scholar, here’s what I’m seeing:  God does, yes, call us – but He can call us in three different ways.  First, He can call us directly, as in Matthew and Mark – in our day, a pretty rare occurrence.  Second, He can call us through events, sometimes even miraculous events, in our lives, as in Luke – something much more common today I’d think.  Third, He can use someone else to call us to Him,  as in John – something probably about as common as the second form.  Then, of course, there are hybrids such as in the first reading from Samuel where God calls Samuel directly but it requires the (God-inspired) intervention of another person for that call to be recognized.

So what am I taking out of all of this?  Pay attention.  God may not call to me in the way I’m looking for or the way I’d prefer.  He may well be using someone else to pull me by the hand even while I’m standing there waiting for Him to come in glowing radiance.  Perhaps it is some event or series of events in my life through which He is nudging me in the right direction while I am waiting for someone to just say something.  God does His own thing in His own way, and we ought not to constrict Him to doing it our way in our time.

Finally, yes, we must respond and we must do it the way these disciples did – quickly and decisively.  We are told Peter left either his father and servants behind or, as in Luke, that he left everything behind.  Follow God; the rest will sort itself out later.

Oh, and one more thing.  Your call may be to call someone else.  Following the John’s telling, if Andrew had not called Peter things would have been incalculably different.  We have not just a right but a duty to let others know about Christ and His Church; if we love them we can do no less.

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