What is my purpose? Have you ever wondered that... God...why did you put me here?
I imagine most young people ask SIMILAR questions, like ... What career should I study for... Whom should I date and marry? And that all important question of the universe... Vanilla or chocolate ice cream? (of course the answer is vanilla…)
While those are important questions, they take on a different meaning when you ask it this way... GOD what is YOUR purpose for me?
I can just imagine that’s what happened to the two main characters in our readings today... Samuel and John the Baptist. They both had been dedicated to God by their parents...but they still had to wonder sometimes ...what DOES God want me to do? I imagine John was sitting in the Synagogue one Sabbath – and the sermon was particularly boring, so he did what most of us would do… he read the bulletin. … and on the second page at the bottom, he noticed that God was looking for somebody to do a special job.
That’s all it said. No job description. None of the ordinary stuff like – must be able to type 100 words a minute, must be able to cook and clean windows, … no contact information. No mention of what would be expected of him.
But he listened. He took it as a nudge from God, and he went about doing what he felt God was calling him to do…baptizing people and preaching Repentance…. That was it... Baptizing and preaching, Baptizing and preaching, day after day. And there had to be days he wondered.... Is this it? Is this my purpose? Until today – quite out of the blue – his REAL purpose became clear. HIS job was to point out the Lamb of God! His job was simply to point people to Jesus! All that Baptizing and preaching was just to get people prepared to meet the messiah. And by him doing HIS job, it started a domino effect that continues even today.
Notice in that Gospel - two of John’s own disciples were paying attention… they were looking for God – so when John pointed out Jesus, they immediately went to follow him. After spending the rest of the day with Jesus, they were convinced…and so excited that THEY went to tell others. Notice who Andrew told: Peter – the first Pope!
Can you imagine if God’s purpose for you was to introduce Jesus to the first Pope! A guy could get a big head after something like that. Maybe you and I wish WE had a big, important job to do like that – but maybe instead of the Pope, our job is to introduce our family to Jesus. Maybe it’s somebody at work. Maybe we spend every day cleaning and cooking, cleaning and cooking and wonder is this it God? Is this my purpose? But in doing that job, you are physically SHOWING your family and others what selfless love is. Your job is to point them to Jesus.
Maybe it's our job simply to pray for people who are sick or injured.
I was told a story just a couple weeks ago about a local miracle. That’s what he called it – a miracle. This guy’s daughter had been badly injured in an auto accident several years back. She had severe head trauma, and was in intensive care in Louisville for weeks. One day, it seemed all was going south. She had 105 fever, the pressure in her brain kept increasing despite the care she was receiving… and the nurses admitted there was nothing else they could do. This man was trying to deal with all of this bad news when a neighbor lady from back home walked in. It was a strange time of the day for visitors, but he went out to visit with them. The neighbor lady said, “I’m here because God told me to come pray for your daughter”. Well, this guy was like – “Hey, it can’t hurt… in fact, as bad as things are getting, it will take a miracle”. So they went in – and to make a long story short – this lady prayed – fast and loud. This guy was amazed of the prayers that came from this woman’s mouth… and when she was done – something amazing happened. The sun came out. It had been overcast and dreary for days on end, and at that very moment, the sun came out and was at such an angle that it shone right into the room. He was awestruck by the beauty of it – and by the improbability of it. He said the sun had to be in just the right spot to shine between the two buildings next to the hospital. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. They all went back to the waiting room to talk a bit more – and when he went back to his daughter’s room – her temperature was down to 101 and the pressure in her brain had returned to normal. A miracle! The next day, she was taken after weeks in intensive care, out of intensive care, she was taken to her own room.
Now – you COULD call it a coincidence – you COULD say that God could have worked that miracle without anybody’s help… but the fact is: this lady LISTENED to God’s instructions. As pointless and silly as it may have seemed at the time – she drove to Louisville to do God’s will....to fulfill her purpose.
She was listening. I wonder …..how many of us would listen? Ask yourself this question...How many miracles have NOT happened today because I didn’t do my job? How many times has god wanted me to act, but I wasn't listening?
One of the Catholic CD’s I was listening to last week… I think it was Fr. Larry Richards… He said that “We meet Jesus in His Word”. In other words, in order for us to learn about Jesus and his purpose for us, the best way to do that is to read the bible. But how many of us actually read it? Maybe we don’t feel comfortable reading the bible? Maybe we think we have to have Father or a Deacon up here to interpret it for us. Nope. The Bible is for everyone.
So – in order to help us all get more familiar with how to dig into the bible, our adult formation team has two things coming up for Lent. First is the small group scripture study that was talked about at Mass the past couple of weekends. Those groups will start meeting in early February and go through the end of Lent. The other option we’re calling “Sunday School for Everyone”. We’ll meet at 9 a.m. each Sunday during Lent… that’s after Mass at SC and before Mass at SR. We will dig a little deeper into the readings for the day. Hopefully, in addition to being a time for fellowship and sharing, it will help us all to become more comfortable with cracking open the Bible. In fact, I think it would be cool if we get to the point that everybody would tell me what YOU would have preached about if you were the one standing up here.
As an example of the sort of thing we might dig into at Sunday School - I want to point out something from that first reading. There is a phrase right BEFORE our reading which we didn’t get to hear. Let me read the whole sentence: “The lamp of God was not yet extinguished, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord....”. “The lamp of God was not yet extinguished…” The Lamp of God referred to the light that continuously burned in the temple which signified the Lord’s presence…kind of like our Sanctuary Lamp - This red candle here signifies that Jesus is still in the Tabernacle. God was present in the Temple … and that’s where Samuel heard him.
You and I have an opportunity that may not last forever. OUR sanctuary lamp is still lit. The Lord is still present right here in our Church. How many actually come here to listen for his will? We may not have to SLEEP in church like Samuel did… but We can still come to adoration on Friday evenings or just come to church anytime to ask God- what do you want me to do? Try it sometime. Sit down in front of the tabernacle and simply say… Speak Lord, your servant is listening….
But be prepared… He will probably have a job for you to do! Because it’s when we’re about DOING God’s will – that’s when he will reveal to us our true purpose.