Fr. Stan’s Article
How many phone calls do you receive each day? I get quite a few around dinner time. It seems the telemarketers always know when I’m eating, since that’s when they usually try to sell me something. I let the answering feature on my phone take the call and most of the time they don’t even bother to leave a message.
Today’s Scripture readings speak about different kinds of calls: to Samuel in the first reading and to the disciples of Jesus in the Gospel reading. These calls are invitations to listen and follow. Samuel mistakes the call as coming from his mentor Eli. Eli helps him to discern that the voice is from God and that he should be attentive to it. Samuel finally replies that he is listening and ready to do God’s will. Likewise the disciples that Jesus invites want to know where He stays so He tells them to come and see. They in turn invite their family and friends to join them in following Jesus.
In Samuel and the disciples we have models of how we should reply to the invitations we receive from God. While we may be expecting God to use some major event to turn our lives around, His invitations are often soft and quiet and come to us indirectly through others and the circumstances of our lives. All of these will automatically go into a spiritual voice-mail if we’re not attentive to recognizing them, distracted from listening to them, and unwilling to follow the direction they give us. During the Advent/Christmas season we met numerous characters in the Scriptures (Mary, Joseph, Zachariah, Magi, and shepherds) who heard God’s voice and followed paths that they wouldn’t have normally followed. It brought them peace and joy but also sacrifice and even suffering when they accepted God’s plans. Prayer, meditation, spiritual direction and gratitude for all things set us up to discover the voice of God.
Monday we honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. who led the civil rights movement in the 50’s and early 60’s. While equal rights are mandated by law, racism still pervades hearts, minds and institutions. The latest health crisis has pulled back the curtain on how minorities suffer the most from the pandemic’s effects. Unemployment, lack of health care and educational opportunities, and few material resources contribute to a disproportionate number of deaths among minority groups. Prior to the pandemic St. Mary’s parishioners attempted to bridge the racial gap in our community by prayer and conversations with fellow Catholics from inner-city parishes. Hopefully we can resume this effort in the near future and share our faith while advocating for equality and justice for all.
When we resumed in-person worship Memorial Day weekend, we made changes in the liturgy and parish life to keep people from contracting and spreading COVID-19. Wearing masks, keeping social distance, sanitizing common surfaces, and washing hands are some of the best practices that we adopted. We continue to tell people who are sick to stay home. We also discourage people from congregating before and after Mass in the narthex. The infectious disease that we are now fighting with vaccinations spreads itself through our most human desire to be physically with each other. Let us resist that urge and find virtual ways to connect and care for one another until we’ve won the battle.
Peace and Joy,
Fr. Stan Ulman