Wednesday, January 11, 2011

Wednesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time

(I Samuel 3:1-10.19-20; Mark 1:29-39)

Many people discern a call to serve the Church, but few believe that God may be asking them to remain unmarried. They fear being left unfulfilled as human beings if they do no give themselves to another in sexual intimacy. Entertainment almost invariably sends a similar message. Parents as well, having few children, encourage the ones they have to marry so that they may see their family increase. Albeit in an oblique way, the first reading today addresses this question of vocational celibacy.

The biblical author indicates that a vocation is not easily discerned by commenting that “a revelation of the Lord was uncommon.” Yet the Lord does not cease to knock at Samuel’s door. The priest Eli provides the key to discernment of God’s call. Samuel must converse with the Lord in concentrated prayer if he is to understand what God wants of him.

We should understand that the Church does not hold virginity and celibacy high because sexual intimacy is suspect. Quite the contrary, it recognizes the beauty and, indeed, the necessity of married love. But it also is alarmed by the fancy of uncommitted sex that grips the world today. By holding its priests to celibacy and by encouraging women to consecrate their lives to a special relationship with Christ, it preaches the existence of the One who orders our lives so that we might experience not passing pleasure but lasting happiness. Deep and continual prayer will tell whether we have the vocation to preach in this special way.