In the First Reading for the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, we heard God’s call to Jonah to His service. Then, in the Gospel reading, we heard one of the most stirring examples in the Bible of Jesus calling others to His service. As He walked along the Sea of Galilee, He called two pairs of brothers, Peter and Andrew, James and John. And it was only last week; we heard the stirring call of Samuel.
Wonderful stories, but there’s a bit of a drawback. Unfortunately, these passages can sometimes set up in our minds the expectation that when God calls, it will be so clear and explicit that we might actually hear His voice. That is extremely rare.
God open and closes door before us.
I think that there’s a saying paraphrased from a verse in the Book of Revelation that gives a better visualization of how God calls. It goes:
With His breath God keeps the celestial spheres in motion,
while He opens and closes doors before us. [see Rev 3:8]
An encounter with someone; an invitation to some gathering or ministry; or to a new job, in a new location, are like new “doors” being opened before us. And there are also circumstances that can be seen as “doors” closing. We might wish, or think, we are being prompted to some calling. But we later find we aren’t able to because of some limitation or life circumstance. It seemed that “door” is closed to us. Yet, as one door closes another is opened.
One either follows God’s call or they don’t; there’s no in-between.
My point is that God’s calling is rarely expressed in the direct manner depicted in these readings. They are intended as great faith lessons for us in that, in each case, the ones called leave everything behind and follow God’s call. There was no hesitation, no holding back, no delay. One either follows God’s call or they don’t; there’s no in-between.
God choses to work through those around us and
through the circumstances He places us in.
Sure, some may experience an inner prompting or a deep sense of urgency for a particular cause or ministry, even a gentle nudging by the Holy Spirit. But for the most part, God choses to work through those around us and through the circumstances He places us in. And we need to discern from those circumstances what He is “calling” us to. Even the abrupt loss of someone close to us, or the onset of some serious illness, God can use as an opportunity to “open and close doors before us.”
Every one of us has a calling, and it can change over the course of our lives.
Every one of us has a calling, and it can change over the course of our lives, not necessarily to some great effort, or religious life, or missionary work. But God has invested a lifetime in each one of us, for a reason. There is purpose to our being here, in this time and place. It can be to a particular way of life. But more generally it is to serve some need, cause or purpose that is right in front of us, in our community, in our parish, in our own family.
But if we are so caught up in the busyness of life that we don’t pick up on these little hints, these nudges, these promptings, we fail to fulfill a purpose God intends for us. We are less than what He wants of us, and we don’t even know it.
What is God calling me to, right now?
What stories like we hear in these Bible passages are intended to do is to prompt each one of us to ask ourselves, “what is God calling me to? Am I open to devoting more of my attention to picking up on what those around me and the circumstances He has placed me in are prompting me to? Am I even noticing ‘doors being opened and closed before me?’ If not, why not; where is my sense of purpose, the purpose God is calling me to, right now?”
‘Till next time,
Dcn Bob Evans
Jan 22, 2024
Mark 1:14-20; Jonah 3:1-10; Rev 3:8