“Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will,” sings today’s Psalm. What a great refrain for anyone, any day, but especially for those of us in Creighton’s undergraduate colleges, as today is the first day of classes for our Spring semester. Spring, yes, although it’s January!
The first reading gives us the good story of Samuel’s hearing God call him to his life’s work, to be an “accredited prophet” (“trustworthy” in another translation) for the Lord. The Gospel begins with a story about Jesus at work curing people with various troubles and illnesses, and ends with Jesus agreeing to “go on to the nearby villages” to do his proper work of “preaching and driving out demons.”
Among the words and phrases of our colloquial speech today, many of us too often say “whatever,” to deal with uncertainty, to express indifference, or simply to fill in air space with meaningless sound. A joke: “This book is so vague it’s like, whatever.” But “whatever” fits the lesson in today’s readings. Samuel is inspiring: “whatever” God wills, he is ready to do. The Gospel is consoling: Jesus is with us in our troubles, “whatever” they are: the aching shoulder, the upset stomach, the disappointing course grade, the worry I can’t shake, the former friend’s unforgiving hostility – whatever, indeed. “Whatever” the actual trouble or task at the moment, whatever the schedule or program, position or situation for this spring semester, we are each called to our particular “vocation” or work, and Jesus is with us today and each day.
I notice that Jesus got up “very early before dawn,” thus taking time out of the ordinary schedule, and found a place to be alone to pray. He did “whatever” was necessary in his human life. “Whatever,” sounds like indifference, and indifference can be the refusal to choose between true and false, good and evil. A human being should take a stand, make a decision, cast a vote, have and live by moral principles, and consider the consequences – in other words, not be “indifferent.” But another kind of indifference is an attitude to strive for, having made a real choice between true and false, good and evil. St. Ignatius writes about this: one should not care about anything except as it leads to knowing, loving, and serving God. Thus one would not care whether one has long life or short life, good health or illness, wealth or penury – whatever – except as they contribute to the ultimate purpose and goal of life.
Lord, I pray today that like Samuel, I may hear you calling me to do “whatever” is my proper work for today, this semester, my whole life. Let today be the beginning of a new awareness that you are with me “whatever” my ills and troubles, and “whatever” my responsibilities and opportunities. “Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will.”
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