Our Scripture readings continue with the theme of call. Yesterday’s was the calling of Jesus’ disciples, and today, in the First Book of Samuel, we read about the calling of the prophet Samuel.
Then Eli [the prophet] understood that God was calling the youth. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the Lord came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
And in today’s response from Psalm 40 we read:
Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.
It is a New Year . . . has been for ten days now. Our Christmas Season ended on Sunday, the Feast of the Epiphany . . . yesterday we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord . . . and today Jesus calls his followers and invites them to go fishing.
Jesus said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of people.”
Then they left their nets and followed him.
This shot of a boat going out to fish was taken in the early morning, just as the sun was rising. Those who fish, must start early. Photographers rise early for the good shots. So must we who are are also called to fish. My friends who are not early risers would argue with me about the rising early. And they are right . . . they see an earlier morning than I do, for they stay up sometimes till the morning. Reminds me of a Rumi poem, “Sometime, stay up all night.”
Late or early, let us find our God in the silence of that time, and may it speed us on our way to where each one of us is called to “fish.”
Today’s reading in the 3rd Thursday of Advent is from Isaiah 54
So God has sworn not to be angry with you,
or to rebuke you.
Though the mountains leave their place
and the hills be shaken,
My love shall never leave you
nor my covenant of peace be shaken,
says our God, who has mercy on you.
We can believe that the mountains can’t be moved, but we have difficulty believing that God’s love would never leave us.
Let our Advent task be to find our hope in the love of God toward us, stronger and more faithful than anything we know.
Today is the Feast of Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish Carmelite saint and mystic from the 16th century. One of his most famous (and moving) poems is entitled, “The Dark Night.” Below are a few stanzas.
1. One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.
2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.
3. On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.
4. This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
– him I knew so well –
there in a place where no one appeared.
5. O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.
On this Feast of Saint Lucy (whose name means light), I share a poem by Thomas Merton.
Lucy, whose day is in our darkest season,
(Although your name is full of light,)
We walkers in the murk and rain of flesh and sense,
Lost in the midnight of our dead world’s solstice
Look for the fogs to open on your friendly star.
We have long since cut down the summer of history;
Our cheerful towns have all gone out like fireflies in October.
The fields are dry and the vine is bare:
How have our long days dwindled, now that the world is frozen!
Locked in the cold jails of our stubborn will,
Oh hear the shovels growling in the gravel.
This is the way they’ll make our beds for ever,
Ours, whose Decembers have put out the sun:
Doors of whos souls are shut against the summertime!
Martyr, whose short day sees our winter and our Calvary,
show us some light, show seem forsaken by the sky:
We have so dwelt in darkness that our eyes are screened and dim,
And all but blinded by the weakest ray.
Hallow the vespers and December of our life,
O martyred Lucy:
Console our solstice wit your friendly day.
-Thomas Merton, The Collected Poems
Would that all of us could receive the Christ whom we meet each day with the grace and humility of John the Baptizer.
John answered them, “I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
Sometimes the best lessons are outside one’s window, at least this one was the other day. During Advent we celebrate Mary’s gift of mothering to the Christ Child, as well as toward us. These youngsters are also appreciative of their patient mother doe.
On today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception, we celebrate Mary our Model of Openness to God
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
– Luke 1:37-38
Sister Joanne Cullimore’s watercolor of Mt. Whitney, named Whitney Portal, speaks to our hearts as Isaiah does in today’s reading for the Second Wednesday of Advent. Waiting on God brings us strength . . . the strength of these granite mountains, created by our God.
From Isaiah 40
To whom can you liken me as an equal? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these things. . .
. . .Do you not know or have you not heard? The Lord is the eternal God, creator of the ends of the earth.
God does not faint nor grow weary, and God’s knowledge is beyond scrutiny. . .
God gives strength to the fainting; and for the weak makes vigor abound.
Though the young faint and grow weary, and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings;
They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint.
Teach me Lord, teach me Lord, to wait.