Play That One Again
How many times have you sung the church song, “Here I Am, Lord”? If you grew up Catholic and are around my age (still 50!), the answer is more than you can count. The song that quotes various verses of Scripture is sung using guitar, piano, or organ, by cantors and choirs, in traditional and modern churches. It is truly a Catholic greatest hit of the modern Church. The question is how many times when singing the refrain have you really taken to heart what you were singing.
“Here I am, Lord; is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.” Like the biblical figure Samuel, we are responding to the call of God by asking for clarification that we are indeed the one being called. We then follow up the question with a profound statement: “I will go if You lead me.” It is profound because we are pledging to our God that we are willing to go wherever He wants. We are accepting the challenge put forth in the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” to become mature disciples who respond to the call of Jesus Christ regardless of the cost. We have sung this pledge repeatedly for many years.
We never have any idea what God will call us to do and where to go. Sometimes the request can ask us for quite a lot. Hopefully, we respond like a mature disciple. If not, maybe we should reflect more the next time this song is played. The melody will not allow for the words, “I will see if I am busy and then decide to go if you lead me.” Then again, I don’t want to sing that to God, the source of all life anyway. Do you?
— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS
Can you imagine what kind of response I would get if I asked my three children, “Who would like to volunteer to clean up the kitchen after dinner today?” Six eyeballs staring at me like I had two heads! If I couch my request in terms of volunteerism, I have suggested that they don’t have any real ownership in this matter. Perhaps they do sometimes think that their mother and I are simply hired hands to take care of them, but rest assured, I have not received a paycheck for services rendered lately.
When you and I give a donation of blood, we volunteer our time and blood to the Red Cross. The Red Cross does not employ most of us, nor do we own a part of the Red Cross. We can only volunteer ourselves for the cause.
As parishioners we are part of a parish family. We belong to our parish community. We do not visit on a Sunday morning, since we cannot visit a place that is home. The call of the body of Christ occurs in every parish and our response should be that of the psalmist, “Here am I, Lord; I come to do your will.” Real stewardship never counts the cost and never asks for volunteers. We step forward because we belong to something greater than ourselves and the head of that community is Jesus. After dinner at my house, someone needs to clean up the kitchen. In your parish community, someone needs to respond to the call of Jesus. In both cases, no volunteers are needed. We will rely on family instead.