This Sunday’s readings reflect on the nature of God calling us. In the first reading, Eli helped Samuel understand that what he was hearing was the voice of God calling him to service. In the gospel, Andrew and, later, his brother, Simon, were looking for more from life and they found it in Jesus. Jesus then, christens Simon with a new name signifying his nature and character which would form the fledging beginnings of a community of faith.
Last week, on the feast of the Epiphany, the Magi saw the star and followed it. The chief priests and scribes were able to correctly identify the birthplace of the Messiah in Bethlehem but did not seek to search it out. It struck me that, if we are to hear God’s voice and respond to it in our hearts, then we, like the Magi and the disciples, need to actively seek it out and look for any opportunity to hear the voice of the Spirit blowing in our lives.
So, my question is, why, then, after Covid have so many people not returned to church, to Sunday Mass? We all know that God is present everywhere and at all times but, at Mass, the presence of God is a covenanted presence, guaranteed; whereas outside that time we are often so distracted that we miss God’s voice or else it gets drowned out by the many distractions around us. At the Eucharist, we are not only guaranteed to encounter God in the scriptures and in the faith community but, we get to take the very creator of the universe into our bodies at communion. There is no where on the planet — no, in the whole universe — we could get closer to God.
Our time of intense isolation is ended. We need to regroup and return to the places and practices that provided us better chances to hear God calling us — and Sunday Mass is a good place to start. Then, we, like Samuel and the disciples may be more able to respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” and “Hear I am, Lord, I come to do your will.”