Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Vocation - Calling
All three readings today issue a vigorous call to those who wish to lead God-centred lives.
The first reading from the book of Samuel tells of Samuel responding to the call of God to be His servant - "Speak Lord, your servant is listening".
St. Paul's epistle to the Corinthians is a passionate call for sexual morality.
St. John's gospel story tells how the baptism of Jesus was a decisive turning-point in His life, just as it was a transition for the disciples as they answered the invitation‚  - "Come and See"

Point 1. Years ago the term "vocation" had a very limited application and, invariably, was taken to mean a calling to the priesthood or religious life as a nun or a brother. Today, there is general recognition that all people are called to serve God in their particular way of life. And so we speak of marriage as a vocation; teaching, nursing, healing and so on.
From the very beginning of human history, people, in addition to their efforts to acquire practical knowledge on how to make a living, have also been concerned with understanding why they live. They continue to delve into the causes behind the phenomena of nature and to reflect on the origins of creation. St. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles refers to this constant questioning - "He (God) made every nation to live on the face of the earth ... that they should seek God in the hope that they might feel after him and find him" (Acts 17:26-27)

Point 2: The same history highlights the frequent intervention of the Creator in this search. Particularly does this show up in the special relationship between the Hebrew tribes and‚  God. There was the special covenant with Abraham; the charismatic leadership of Moses; the constant guidance of the Prophets culminating with John the Baptist leading to God's own presence amongst people in the person of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul speaks of the variety of gifts exercised by different persons within the religious family. "There is a variety of gifts, but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of services to be done, but always the same Lord working in all sorts of different ways in different people; it is the same God working in all of them" (1 Cor 12:4)
How do we know what it is that God is expecting of us? By following the example of Samuel and listening - "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening". The Lord speaks to us in may ways - through the Scriptures; with the voice of the Church ; through what is happening around us; from our neighbour. But we need to be listening. To be disciples of Christ involves being a good listener; not only for our own development but also to be of help to others.

Conclusion: Unfortunately, not many of us are noted for being good listeners. We are so full of our own affairs that there is little room left for other people's concerns. That is why we need to develop the habit of reflecting and evaluating before deciding. There are many ways to listen and the art of being a good listener can mean listening not just to what is being said, but also, to what is not said. To understand the meaning of an awkward silence, a half-uttered word, a word held back, is truly a God-given gift. Another obstacle to being a good listener is not knowing how to keep silent even when I may know more that the person who is speaking to me. The faults that prevent us being good listeners to those around us, frequently are the same faults that keep us from hearing the voice of God in our lives as He speaks to us through the Scriptures, through tradition and the many acts of providence with which we are constantly confronted.

Scriptural reference: "Listen, then, my son and show yourself wise, keeping still on an even course" (Proverbs 23:19)