As my wife will be quick to share: I am a pretty sound sleeper and there is not much that keeps me up at night. However, I do sometimes wake up in the middle of the night – now more often with a new born crying for something to eat (thankfully my wife has been great taking the late shift feeding our son, Owen) or I am anxious about a problem or project at work, worried about the family budget, thinking about a loved one who is sick or hurting, or what to say when it is my turn to preach. Often in these moments in the middle of the night, I am able to calm myself with the words in today’s Psalm: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” In fact, I try to start every day with these words. I find these words ground me in my faith and lead me into an even deeper relationship with God.
When I say these words, “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will,” I acknowledge that Jesus is my Lord, who I am called to listen to, obey and follow what he has commanded, which is to love and serve God and others –not to be selfish and self-serving. Over the holidays I finished a book by Curtis Martin called “Made for More” - this book will be in the Lighthouse kiosks in the near future. In his book, Curtis shares that in his return to the Catholic Church he made a big step in his faith journey when he accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, and lived by this motto: “If Jesus is not Lord of all, he is not Lord at all.” In other words, he (and each of us) need to follow Jesus wherever he leads us and in whatever we are called to do and at all times. When we say: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will,” we seek to follow the example of Christ himself, whose entire life was in obedience to and in love with his Father. Jesus’ birth, life, Passion, death, resurrection, and sending of the Spirit provide the perfect example for us of obedience and love that we are called to have.
When I do this, when I listen to and am obedient to God’s will, there is an incredible freedom that I experience, because I am no longer swimming against the current, I am no longer trying to fit a round peg in a square hole, I am no longer fighting against God’s will, but I am living the life I was made to live, I am allowing God’s will and desire to move me and guide. Saint Paul makes this point in today’s second reading – encouraging the Corinthians to avoid immorality and be obedient to God’s will and glorify God in your body. I found greater clarity in my calling through my participation in the parish’s That Man Is You program. We started our second semester this morning, and I invite and encourage the men gathered here to join us next Saturday – you will not regret it!
When I say these words: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will,” I also place a great trust and hope in the promise of eternal peace and life made possible by Jesus’ death and resurrection. You may have heard about a young professional football player by the name of Tim Tebow (just kidding)…when you get beyond the media buzz and hype of this player, one of his favorite verses has great meaning and purpose for us as Catholics. The now infamous Bible verse John 3:16, which is associated with Tim Tebow – it was written under his eyes last year and just so happened to be the number of yards he passed and the average number of yards per completion in his game last week – also has this important promise for us: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” I suspect that this is what John the Baptist, his disciples and the Apostles were looking for in today’s Gospel and what they found in Jesus. The promise of eternal life is what motivates my faith in Jesus Christ, too. I believe, so that I might have eternal life. I say “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will” as a reminder to myself everyday that my belief in and my obedience to God is for a reason.
God is calling each of us. Like Samuel in today’s first reading, God is calling us personally, by name, to be in relationship with him. How wonderful is Samuel’s response: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” And like Samuel, God is not calling us from a distance, but is coming directly to us and is present even now – in this faith community, in Sacred Scripture, and in the Eucharist we are about to share – drawing us closer to him. Our response must be: Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Our response must be in obedience to Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Blessed Pope John XXIII (23rd) once said: “True peace is born of doing the will of God, and bearing with patience the sufferings of this life, and does not come from following one’s own whim or selfish desire, for this always brings, not peace and serenity, but disorder and discontent.” I want true peace now and eternally and this is what I want for each of you.
So I start my day and calm myself in moments of anxiety or selfishness with these words: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Make this your prayer too. When you feel stressed, when you are suffering, when you feel alone, when you are exhausted, pray: “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.”