Monday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time
1 Samuel 1:1-8; Psalm 116; Mark 1:14-20
Life can get complicated. Things seemed much simpler in the past. When we wanted to have a meal with friends, we picked up the phone, made a few calls and then went out. We met at the appointed time, had our meal, enjoyed ourselves and then went home. These days, we have to create chat groups, make appointments, change them regularly right until the last minute, change meeting times and venues on the fly till everyone arrives a little late and harrassed. When we eat, we look for wifi, take photos of food and each other and post all these on facebook and instagram instantly or when we get home. Exhausting.
Our remarkable ability to complicate our lives sometimes seems into our spiritual lives as well. We begin feeling that God’s as complicated as we are or even more so. We think that there are many hoops to jump through before we can connect with God. We begin to over think prayer, overthink the requirements to receive mercy while thinking it’s incredibly difficult to respond to any call by God. We want to change things before we even start connecting with God.
We realise that God is truly much simpler than that. No hoops, no prerequisite. The Gospel of today shows us how simple things can be. Firstly, God calls us in our ordinariness. The 2 pairs of brothers called were not particularly skilled nor intelligent nor trained. Some might say that the endurance and tenacity of fishermen would put them in good stead but they were ordinary fishermen to start with too. Ordinariness is often good because we’re at our most natural in our ordinary life. God doesn’t want us to try to make ourselves special before we respond – God wants us as who we actually are. We don’t need to confirm to ideal to respond to a call. We just have to be ourselves.
Secondly, the call is simple. The Lord just said ‘Follow me’. If we hear that, would we do so? We tend to overthink things and doubt ourselves by thinking that we’re unworthy. If God the all-knowing and almighty calls us, who are we to question that judgement? The call isn’t too complicated either – it’s a simple feeling stuck deep in our hearts that we nurture through prayer and awareness. All we need to do is to be alert and follow it when we hear it.
Thirdly, the call may seem difficult (and complicated) but God who calls us will provide us the means to fulfil it. The Lord told Simon and Andrew that he would ‘make’ them fishers of men. That means that they weren’t already skilled at being apostles of Christ (how would they – they hardly knew him!) but he who calls would transform them into great evangelisers. Ordinary people are called to to do extraordinary things only if we’re open to allow the Lord to lead us to these extraordinary heights. Difficult as such tasks may be, the Lord provides us with the means to achieve them if we trust.
As we see in first reading, such possibilities, such extraordinariness that emerges from our ordinary lives can occur when we least expect it. We forget this and are like Hannah as we sometimes choose only to focus on our misery and complicated lives and not on the possibility of God. The Gospel reminds us of the possibilities, of how God works in our lives and how we need to slow down to see how this truly happens. Perhaps a good start would be be grateful for the graces given and to look to how we can deepen our appreciation of such graces as we go along.
Life complicates, God uncomplicates. We should remain aware of how the Lord calls us out of our lives mired in complicatedness to where we should be. We continue to pray, to be alert and aware and most of all to listen to the promptings of our heart and the Holy Spirit. After all, we never know when the Lord might walk past and lead us to where we don’t expect.