17th Sunday of Year A
Called by God
Has God called you? What is your response? If you are thinking “God has not called me”, chances are He has. The truth is, by our baptism, God has called each of everyone of us. And yes, God even calls those who are yet to be baptised. In truth, if I think that God has not called me, it is probably because I have filled my life with so much noise that I could not hear Him. What might be some of these noise? Some of us are so busy with our work and career that we do not leave any room in our life to listen to God. Others are so proud and self-reliant that there is no room in their hearts for God – in effect, they become their own God. In response to these, I might say, but this is not me. I come to church every week; I celebrated the Sacraments regularly; I even help in many church ministries and charities – yet I have not heard the call of God. My dear brothers and sisters, if this is you, let me assure you that God has called you. God’s call comes in many forms – something a friend said to you, a thought that the Holy Spirit put into your mind, reflection pieces such as this. I invite you to now still your hearts and listen to the silence of God’s call. Sometimes, we heard but have not listened; we listened but have not discerned.
Coming to church every week is a good thing. But Christianity is not the “Jesus Christ Society”. Helping with the poor is also a very good thing, but the Church is not a charity organisation. God calls us to something more. To be alive in our faith, our worship and charitable work must be borne out of something deeper – a personal encounter with Him. Without a personal encounter with our Lord Jesus, our church activities can become little more than mere rituals. God calls us to be more than just participants and workers in His Church, he calls us to be His disciples, His sons, His daughters. My dear brothers and sisters, have you heard His call? Have you responded? When I respond to God’s call, I change the way I live:
- when I acknowledge my most shameful sins to Him and seek forgiveness;
- when I open my deepest wounds to Him and seek healing;
- when I love those people who are the most difficult to love in my life;
- when I forgive those who hurt me deeply and even as they remain unrepentant.
Only then have I walked in His footsteps and become a true disciple. Only than that my worship and charitable work take on a new meaning.
This is the conversion journey awaiting all of us. This is the conversion journey that God is calling us to. For those of us who respond to His call, eternal glory awaits us. As the Second Reading puts it, “those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified” (verse 30). In the Gospel, Jesus explained that on the Last Day, the angels of the Lord will sieve through humanity “and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad” (verse 48). “The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous” (verse 49). On the Last Day, for those of us who merely ritualise our religion and live lives that are inconsistent with the life of Jesus, we might be in for a surprise:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.’” (Mt 7:21-23)
In the First Reading, God offered King Solomon anything he wish for (verse 5). Solomon did not ask for “long life or riches, or for the life of [his] enemies” (verse 11). Instead, he just asked for “an understanding mind” (verse 9). Let us too ask God for an understanding mind and a discerning heart, so that we may hear His call. Amen.