Since Advent began this liturgical year, we have contemplated Call: our call to God in the voices of the prophets, our yearning to be saved, heard, healed; our pleas for God to “Renew the face of the earth.” With all generations we call God to remember the promises to the people who are God’s own.
And God calls back: to Mary, to Joseph, to Zechariah and Elizabeth, bringing life to barrenness; to the magi, to John the Baptist, and as we heard this past Sunday, by the divine drenching of Jesus, now named God’s own Son, and his unique role as the enfleshment of God’s divine desire to wrap all the earth in love and life everlasting. And God calls us: Listen to him.
This week’s scripture readings revisit an older-yet-familiar story, the tearful prayers to God of barren Hannah, who cannot have children with her loving husband Elkanah, and God’s gracious granting to them a son, Samuel. And young Samuel is called by God’s voice in the night, and comes to answer “Here I am.” And God calls us to be here, too, and to answer for our world.
This whole season of Incarnation and Manifestation, the cries of people and prophets for salvation, the life sparking in empty wombs, the gradual revelation of Jesus to shepherds and magi and then to his people at his Baptism offer us an intensive course in the loving interplay of God and creation. Jesus takes on flesh, materiality, to signal God’s desire for an ever expanding and deepening unity of all in love.
We live nowadays in another season of call, long recognized by psalmists, prophets, St. Francis, and preachers and mystics and scientists, and testified to by Pope Francis. The earth, our sister, our mother, is calling us to wake up and see again the immense gift to us of God’s whole creation, and our blessed, Christed, dwelling with and in it. This is a call to love and to heal an earth which, though given to us in great bounty, is in danger: wasted, drained, depleted, poisoned. And many people suffer.
Our call: we do not dominate, but tend. We are, it is said, “star dust.” The mammoth clouds of hydrogen and helium that the Hubble Telescope has brought to our sight from light-years away are regions where stars are being born, out of the same basic elements that make up all creation – our “Brother Sun and Sister Moon,” our Mother Earth and everything offered us for food and drink and shelter. We are part of a precious community of sharing that God intends for our humanity and all of creation. We’re all “stuff” and Jesus has taken it on: Word made flesh.
Listen to the call. The call of Love. The call to love more expansively and generously as we awaken to the presence of the One whom St. Augustine called “Beauty ever ancient, ever new.” Nothing and no one in God’s ongoing creation is too puny to cast away or push aside or trample. Everyone and everything deserves a voice with which to praise. You are called now, in this season, to treasure the world God so loved that “he sent his only son.” Give glory to God in the highest and the lowest, and be peace to God’s creatures on earth.