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  • Homily for 1/25/2009

    1 posts, 1 voices, 538 views, started Jan 25, 2009

    Posted on Sunday, January 25, 2009 by (華娃娃) ChinaDoll

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    • Diamond
      Offline

      Homily for the Sunday 03B

      It seems that the people who chose the readings for this Sunday and last Sunday wanted to give us a short course on vocation. Last Sunday we heard of the call of Samuel to be a prophet. This week we have a pair of contrasting stories of calling or vocation.

      First, there is Jonah, the reluctant messenger. He is unwilling to travel to Nineveh to preach repentance. He tries to thwart his mission by taking ship in the opposite direction. We know, however, that after his encounter with the whale he eventually did go to Nineveh. But once there, he was annoyed at the Assyrians' repentance; he regretted that he could not witness their demise; he was even dismayed at God's forgivenes. The other calling is that of the first Apostles, who left everything immediately and followed Jesus.

      Which of these do we resemble? Probably neither. These are stylized stories that reflect the extremes of human response to God's invitation. But they contain the message that God does indeed call each of us, and does ask for our response.

      What does he call us to? To the choice of life that we have made, to our occupation, and to the many other things that living our daily life requires. And how does his call come? It can come in a great variety of ways. It might be like the lightning bolt that blinded Paul and threw him from his horse; or the cannon ball that shattered the leg of Ignatius Loyola and opened his heart to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit; or the death of her husband that left Elizabeth Seton, the widowed mother of five children, to search for new direction in her life.

      But for most of us God speaks in more ordinary ways. I am reminded of that wonderful passage in the First Book of Kings [19:11ff]. Elijah had returned to Mt. Horeb where he took shelter in a cave. The Lord said to him: "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the Lord; the Lord will be passing by." A strong wind came – but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind there was an earthquake, and then a fire. But the Lord was in neither of these. And then there was a tiny whispering sound. And this was the voice of the Lord speaking to Elijah.

      In the same way God often speaks softly in the silence of our heart. But He also speaks to us through other people. In one of his essays, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: “Our chief want in life is somebody who can make us do what we can.”

      And one of the persons who can do this is a great leader. We ourselves cannot trigger the great potential that lies within all of us. Most of us are like that bottle Aladdin found on the seashore. We have a magnificent genie inside us. But that genie can't get out by itself. Nor can we ourselves release it. We need some Aladdin to come along, pull the cork, and free the genie for us.

      And this is also what Emerson had in mind. Right after saying "Our chief want in life is somebody who can make us do what we can," he adds, "That is the service of a friend." And we might add, "That is also the service of Jesus Christ."

      Napoleon once about himself and his soldiers: "The lightning of my eye, my voice, a word from me, then the sacred fire was kindled in their hearts. I do, indeed, possess the secret of this magical power that lifts the soul."

      As we see in today's Gospel, Jesus also possessed that same power, but to an infinitely greater degree. What is there in Jesus that makes him so different from other leaders? Well, other leaders can only influence us, inspire us. They can fire us up, inflame our emotions, excite our imaginations. But they can't give us their spirit nor share with us their own personal power and strength. If their followers are to change, the change must come about through the followers' own power and effort.

      It is different in the case of Jesus. He can put his spirit in us and share his own power with us. He can enter our mind and our heart and help us do what we could never do alone. To have Jesus enter into our life, we need only open our mind and heart to him. He will do the rest.  

      There is, however, one thing Jesus cannot do for us. He can't open the door of our mind and our heart against our will. We hold the key, and only we can admit him into our life. Today's gospel shows us how to open the door and let Jesus in. It also names the price we must pay if we want to do this. We must like the Apostles be willing to follow wherever Jesus leads.  

      If we decide to do what the Apostles did, if we decide to risk everything for Jesus, he will do for us what he did for them. He will make us partners in his work and give our lives new meaning beyond what we can imagine.

      What will be our response? Let us say with Samuel: "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." And what is needed for our response? A whole arsenal of virtues – all of which the Lord gives. We need to have prayerful reflection, openness to God's advances, and generosity in responding. Above all – as Paul wrote - we need to believe that "all things work for good for those who love God." [Rom 8:28]

      Let’s close with a reflection by Cardinal Newman: "God has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have a mission... Therefore, I will trust him... He does nothing in vain.... He knows what he is about. So my God, I put myself without reserve into your hands."



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    In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.