We’re Called

We may think our relationship to God is a personal affair that doesn’t depend on anybody but ourselves, but that’s not so. Others help us on our way to God. Our gospel reading for this Sunday, for example, tells us that John the Baptist told some of his disciples to follow Jesus and Andrew brought his brother Simon to him. More than we know, others lead us to God.

Instead of a lonely journey, we go to God together. Another way of saying it is that we belong to one body, a church.  Much of our knowledge and faith in God comes from others. We’re not lonely believers.

Our first reading is about the young boy Samuel whom God has chosen for a special mission among the Israelites. His mother senses this and sends him to spend some time in the temple; she hopes the priests there will help him understand what his calling is.

The young boy hears God calling in the night but it’s a very indistinct call; he’s a young boy and he doesn’t know what to make of it. The old priest Eli doesn’t help much at first. He tells the young man there’ s no one calling, go back to sleep.

Finally, the old man recognizes that God is calling the young man. This isn’t the first time someone from an older generation doesn’t understand someone younger.  An early example of the “generation gap?” The story, we learn, is not just about a young boy finding what God wants him to do, but it’s also about someone from an older generation helping him find out.


After awhile, the old priest gives Samuel the right advice: “Go to sleep, and if you are called say ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”

That’s wise advice. The old priest is telling him, first of all, believe God speaks to you. Then, listen humbly as a servant, without letting your own ideas intrude. Become a listener and hear what God wishes to say. Pray.

An elderly man from California calls us every few months to ask for copies of a little prayer we publish called “Be With Me Today, O Lord,” which he distributes to schools and churches in his area. It’s a simple prayer you can find over at Bread on the Waters, where a lot of prayers like this can be found.

The prayer says that God has something for us to do today and everyday; we have a mission in life and it asks God to point that mission out so that we can do it.

“I have a mission…

I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

God has not created me for naught… Therefore I will trust him.

Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away.

God does nothing in vain.

He knows what he is about.” (J.H. Newman)

We’ re links on a chain, a good image of how we fit into life’s larger picture. God hasn’t created us for nothing. We all have a mission in life, but we need people to help us know it.

Our Sunday readings might suggest one particular calling we need to think about and pray about and promote today–vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We need good priests and religious for our church and our world. God calls young men and young women. But they need others, like Eli, to support them in their call.

Next Saturday in our monastery in Jamaica, New York,  the Passionists are having a “Called by Name” weekend for young men who may be called to our community. I’m part of it. Know anyone who might have a call? Pray, and like Eli could you also encourage them to listen to God’s call?



9 thoughts on “We’re Called

  1. Gail Smyder

    I love this reading from Samuel. It’s good that it has been repeated from last week. It all ties together–the links in the chain, the wisdom of listening to others who are reflecting and sharing the call to holiness.
    I have a young friend who was very sick and was put into a medically induced coma until the drs. could figure out how to treat him. He was a Sunday Mass yesterday and our parish is not his home parish, but the whole family came. He was radiant. He knows he has a new chance to develop his relationship with God and shared that–what a grace and gift and to have him come and want to share– that was a WOW moment in my life. The wineskin is new………….pray for Seth and his family. HIs cousin Ryan who is like a nephew to me visited him every day in the hospital. Pray that Seth can share his determination to be present to the Lord with Ryan. We are far away from New York Father, but who knows if there is a call to the priesthood in either of these boys. May your weekend be fruitful. Lots of prayers there………..


  2. Isabel Nepomuceno

    We are called always if we listen to that faint whisper. Thank you for the reminder, Father Victor. Also I am in the midst of reading more on John Cardinal Newman. Very fascinating. Glad to hear of man from California and “Be With Me Today, O Lord”. This short and simple prayer has been my morning prayer. It covers the whole day and beyond.


  3. vhoagland Post author

    Newman is one of my favorites. I like that little phrase we are “a link in a chain.” The link can get easily overlooked.


  4. vhoagland Post author

    Great story, Gail. Like Lazarus, he’s been gifted with more life, likely to bring life to someone else. Heading down to Florida tomorrow to preach in Venice at the cathedral and another parish nearby.


  5. Gail Smyder

    Have a safe journey Father as you share your life and ministry with much enthusiasm and Joy. Enjoy the warmth and bring some home. I must admit I really enjoy winter, but as we get older warmth and sunshine is so precious.


  6. peggy nitka

    Hi, Father. I just read through January and feel so blessed to have you speak of the ways scripture points the way in our “real” life. I will think of light and water and calling on this january day. thank you!


  7. vhoagland Post author

    I’m going to use some of our pictures from Jericho in the next few days. Great trip, wasn’t it?


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