January 11, 2012
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time [January 15, 2012]
It often seems to me as I survey my past life that I have had very little to do with my future. Perhaps that is true of all of us. We seem to fall into professions that often turn out to be a vocation, or a vocation that turns out to be a profession.
Very few of us, however, find our profession or our vocation all alone. Someone, at some point in our life, entered into that passage and invited us to look at life again, perhaps in a completely different manner. In some sense then our futures are made for us.
I can remember at least two instances in my life when someone made all the difference in my future. One happened to be the mother of a girl whom I was dating in high school, a wise lady who helped me see my way through an infatuation!
The second person was a chaplain-colonel in the U.S. Army who took me under his wing and steered me to a seminary at the University of Notre Dame; the rest is history!
In some sense, however, both of those individuals were a form of divine grace that more or less sailed through my life and left a mark that has lasted until this very day. Indeed, I would dare say that very few individuals discover their future alone; some person(s), some event, some need arises to draw us into our future.
Among such individuals I would place the elderly, individuals of age, wisdom, discernment and sensitivity. Interestingly, they are often very quiet people; they say little, but what they do say is full of meaning and sincerity; they speak from long experience and, perhaps, from much pain and suffering. We will do well to listen to them carefully.
It also occurs to me that the process of discovering our vocation or profession can depend on the companions we keep. In some mysterious way we ourselves can be the source of discernment and wisdom for others who may be faltering or struggling with their future. It will simply be a matter of sitting quietly, listening, adding a word or two of encouragement and support. In short, we can often become a kind of divine presence to another without realizing it.
Such is the theme we find in our scriptures for this Second Sunday in Ordinary time as the New Year gets underway.
The first story comes from the Book of Samuel describing an occasion when Samuel, a young scribe was in training under the guidance of Eli, a man of age and great wisdom. The young Samuel imagines he is hearing the voice of Eli during the night. Three times the voice sounds. Finally Samuel goes to Eli one last time and asks: “Did, you call?” Eli, realizing that this was a divine call, simply replies: “If you hear the voice again, simply say: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” The consequence of this short interlude was the beginning of the career of a great leader, Samuel of Israel.
A lesson that all of us might learn from this episode when we are puzzled about the direction of our life is simply to say:
Speak, Lord, I’m listening as hard as I can.
Saint Paul also seems to be another Eli-the Wise. His very dedication to the work of evangelizing non-believers turned into one of the greatest missionary endeavors of world history. People listened to him because simply seemed “eaten up” with enthusiasm for the word of Jesus.
Finally, Jesus himself (gospel) seemed to his followers to be a wise person who spoke the word of God fearlessly. His very life itself was an invitation to discover the meaning of the kingdom of God.
Given all these references in scripture and our daily experience, we all might well say that there has been an Eli who has come through our life and made an immense difference in our future profession or our vocation, or is the other way round?
Posted by Cindy Lentine on January 11, 2012 09:47 AM.