Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Is 66:18-21 Ps 117:1, 2 Heb 12:5-7, 11-13
Jn 14:6 Lk 13:22-30
Call and Response
Many of us know the beauty of call and response that we experience in common prayer. The pattern of common prayer rooted in call and response teaches us to be active and passive, proclaiming and witnessing, silent and giving voice, and weaves us into an interdependence capable of building the Kingdom of God within us and among us. Prayer, in the rhythm of call and response, transforms personal yearning into communal depth and strength. It readies us individually and communally to be disciples of Jesus the Christ in good times and challenging times.
Call and response is the way of our God. The journey of a disciple is to open and be attentive to the call of God in each moment and to respond as fully as possible. The journey of a disciple is also to call to God and wait upon God’s response. And so, the rhythm of call and response, of building our capacity to be in relationship with God, strengthens us, deepens us, and prepares us to meet the needs of the world with God’s mercy and compassion and truth.
Call and response is the undercurrent in the scripture readings for this Sunday . . . in an uncomfortable way! The readings highlight the pain and suffering we experience when we choose to not enter the discipline of call and response—with God and with one another—and even within ourselves. The flow of call and response continuously yields life for the followers of Jesus. Block the flow and a dullness of life and love sets in quickly. Call and response is alive in those who yearn to live with Love as the source and destination of all.
In the reading of Isaiah, we see the length and breadth of God’s desire to call the peoples of many lands and God’s confidence in their response. God does this by sending out those who can proclaim God’s glory among the nations. These people are on fire with God. Call and response is alive in those whom God sends and ignited in those who hear them.
In the reading from Hebrews, we are introduced to the reality of discipline as a necessary component of living in call and response with God. As followers of Jesus, we must commit ourselves to being fashioned in God’s ways and learn to yield all that is not of God or the building of God’s Kingdom. Call and response is alive in those who give themselves over to the discomfort of change and stick with it to serve God’s vision of healing and wholeness.
As we turn to the Gospel of Luke, we learn that the way of the disciple is a demanding one. Jesus focuses his questioners not on the task of salvation but on relationships. The parable teaches us that being in the company of God is not enough, knowing the teachings is not enough, and placing ourselves first is not enough. It is the call that goes out to all the world and the response of those who come that provide a place at the table. Call and response is alive in those who seek and engage with their authentic hunger to be one with God.
My prayer for each of us is that we become sensitive and responsive to the flow of call and response in our lives. That we see, hear, and feel the call of God in each moment, each interaction, and each challenge we meet. My prayer is that we take on the sweet discipline of discipleship with renewed hunger and yearning for the Kingdom of God. My prayer is that we open to the many graces placed in our lives and respond more and more fully.
Sr. Didi Madden, OP