January 14th – 15th 2012
6.30 pm Cathedral, 8.30 am Rokewood, 10.30 am Cathedral
The Italians have a wonderful telephone greeting – they simply pick up the receiver and say “Pronto!” which is at first disarming, but when understood means I’m ready to engage in conversation with you, to listen and to speak.
Richard Leonard SJ reminds us that in recent years we’ve all had to learn to live with ‘voice mail’ as a necessary part of our lives and our telecommunications systems. Sometimes it can seem to be impossible to get a human being on the other end of the telephone. The endless repetition of options and reassurances can be frustrating, to say nothing of the challenges of voice recognition which always seems to think I’m saying something other than what I am!
But let’s think about what it would be like if God decided to install voice mail in Heaven.
Imagine praying and hearing this:
‘Thank you for calling My Father's House. Please select one of the following options:
1 for Requests;
2 for Thanksgiving;
3 for Complaints;
4 for All Other Inquiries.’
And, what if God used the familiar line,
‘I'm sorry, we’re busy helping other sinners right now. However, your prayer is important to us, so please stay on the line and we will attend to you as soon as possible.’
Worse still, imagine if we heard, ‘Our records show that you have already prayed THREE times today; Please hang up and try again tomorrow,’ or, ‘This office is closed for the Sabbath, please pray again on Monday. If you need emergency assistance when this office is closed, contact your local Priest, Rabbi or Imam.’
The Word of God proclaimed for this Ordinary time Sunday is all about call and response and if we hear the first reading from Samuel, its the revelation that occurs when God calls us not only when we seek to call God ourselves – what the call narratives in the scriptures try to teach us is to be ready to respond when we recognise God calling us is “speak Lord, your servant is listening.” It reveals a disposition of readiness and openness, an attentiveness and of course a willingness to listen. It also recognises that the initiative is God’s.
The process of being called to discipleship, which I might add, I believe that we are called to in distinct and diverse ways, involves three stages, the invitation, the discerning process and the outward transformation
1. The invitation is the call from God (perceived as an inner sensitivity, a kind of dream or inspiration that beckons us to investigate further)
2. Discernment. Every call needs discernment. Most of us need help recognising moments of religious importance and so we seek out women and men who are practiced in the ways of God, who can help us test the spirit.
3. An outward focus is the third stage in our responding to the call to discipleship, we no longer belong to ourselves. As disciples, we belong to the body of Christ. We belong to the reign of God; we are now part of the mission of Christ
The Church too experiences the call of God and continually seeks to respond to the signs of the times which are to be interpreted in the light of the Gospel. In the Archdiocese of Canberra, the Archbishop recognises the call of God for the Church and how the Church needs to respond. He says that we need new structures and strategies which correspond to the facts of now, not 50 years ago, and new gospel energy to make us a more powerful and exciting presence. He goes on to say that we need a something of a “Copernican shift” in mentality and culture, to move from being pastoral centres to evangelising centres; that we need all Catholic communities, including our Catholic schools and hospitals, to be evangelising centres, going out into the world. We should not expect the world to come to us. We need to become more biblical, more liturgical, more ecclesial, more counter-cultural, more contemplative and more missionary.
So hearing the Word of God this day let us pray with Samuel –
"Speak Lord your servant is listening."
 Diane Bergant
 “Cultivating new energies for mission,” Archdiocese of Canberra & Goulbourn Annual report 2010 & Archbishop’s letter June 2011 http://www.cg.catholic.org.au