Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (25 April 2015)
There are many ways of waking someone up. One might use shock tactics in the form of loud noises, loud music or a very jarring alarm clock. Or one might go gently and use soft music, whispers or light taps on the shoulder. No matter how one tries to wake another up, the response from the person being awoken can be very different. I remember gently tapping the shoulder of a sleepy student just a few days ago only to have him jump up in shock. We’re all being called to wake up in our own different ways but how do we respond to that call to wake up?
It’s Vocation Sunday this weekend and it’s apt to consider how we’re responding to the many different kinds of calls that the Lord makes to us. We’re all called to do something and it’s not the point of this sharing to talk about the call. I’m more interested in how we respond. Vocation can be to the consecrated life (as this year celebrates) or to the priesthood but it can also be to marriage, singlehood and even to specific occupations or ministries. In that, we’re all called to be whatever we can be in a way that we’re living a life that is closer to God.
How can we respond with the gentleness, obedience and joy of our Blessed Mother? At the Annunciation, she heard of the quite shocking call to bear the son of God when the Angel Gabriel came to bring the news. Her response? Wonder first and then a humble obedient response with the simple words, ‘Be it done to me according to thy word.’ Can we respond in this way when the Lord calls us to the things that we’ve spent our lives running away from?
I believe that the key to this lies in why Vocation Sunday lies in Easter. The Easter joy that permeates this entire season allows our response to be grounded in that same joy, no matter how jarring or shocking it might be. How can we respond with joy? I imagine our Blessed Mother responding with uncertainty that is still grounded in joy. And this joy comes because of her absolute trust in the Lord, knowing that we are called to do whatever we can do and not what we cannot. The Lord most definitely provides what we need to respond.
Much is usually said about how to discern a call, of trying to know when and where the Lord calls us. But we sometimes forget the important time after hearing the call – what do we do then? Often it’s ignored out of fear or insecurity, of us feeling unworthy of whatever’s asked of us. But didn’t the Lord always chide the disciples for having little faith? I don’t think Mary herself had much confidence to say ‘yes’ to God but she did anyway, with an obedience and humility that’s deeply rooted in her faith in God. For us who have the benefit of the knowledge of the resurrection, wouldn’t our joy allow us to deepen our faith in the Lord’s ability to make all things new, even us?
Vocation Sunday is a reminder of this – of the need for us to respond to the Lord’s little wake-up calls to us. The theme for the year of consecrated life is about waking the world with joy – a very apt one that can be applied to all people and all vocations. We’re all called to wake up, to respond with joy and to in turn, wake the world from its slumber of materialism and selfishness. We want to help wake others up to see new possibilities of love and mercy. So let’s try to wait and listen for the call, for the Lord whispering (or shouting, whatever the case may be) to us and then respond with the only way that we should – with joy so that we can fulfil all that we’re called to be and do.