Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thoughts on Today's Liturgy of the Word: Vocational Discernment

I usually don't write anything about my homilies, firstly because (mea culpa) I rarely write them.  But today's readings for the Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (1 Samuel 3:3-10.19,Psalm 39; 1 Corinthians 6; John 1:35-42) reminded me of an important part of vocation discernment, i.e. the role of the intermediary. 

Let me explain: In the reading from the First Book of Samuel, Samuel is called three times by the Lord. He has no idea it is the Lord calling him, and it isn't until  Eli, who is High Priest, comes to this realisation, that Samuel is able to say "Speak, Lord, your servant is listening." Eli helps Samuel to discern that this is the Lord speaking to him, and only then is Samuel able to really communicate with the Lord. 

The same happens in the Gospel reading.  "As John stood with two of his disciples, Jesus passed, and John stared hard at him and said, ‘Look, there is the lamb of God.’ Hearing this, the two disciples followed Jesus." Would the disciples have followed the Lamb of God without the direction, the "mediation" of John the Baptist?  Sure the Synoptic Gospels give a different account of the call of the 12, but here, in John's version, it is John the Baptist's discernment of the will of God for these two disciples that inspires them the follow the Lamb. 

Eli and John the Baptist are intermediaries. 

What does that mean for us? 

That we too are called at times to do the same. 

Continuing with this theme of vocation I think it is so important for parents to be intermediaries.  That is, they are in a privileged position to help their children discern their vocation.  Rather that having the attitude of "no, you're not being called to the Priesthood or Religious Life," mums and dads need to foster in their children good discernment. "What is God calling you to do?" "How is God calling you?" "Go, and tell the Lord, Speak, your servant is listening."  Wouldn't this be a great way for parents to help their children discern the will of God in their lives.

And let us not forget the role of the priest, especially your Parish Priest, in helping to discern God's will.  We can help in such discernment, be it vocation to marriage, to the Priesthood and/or Religious Life.  We too needed the help of intermediaries.  I had my Parish priest and other friars to show me how God was calling me.  Up until then I was like Samuel, hearing a voice speaking to me, but unable to recognise it as God's voice.  Thank God that "Eli" was there for me!

We are called to be Eli and John the Baptist.  Let us ask the Good Lord for the humility to take on this role to bring others to such discernment, whatever it may be.

(Fr.Benedict M. LaVolpe OFM Conv, Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 14, 2012)

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