Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?” And I said, “Here am I; send me”. (Isaiah 6:8)
The Apostle Andrew is often referred to as the “first called”, meaning that he was the first person called by Jesus to become a disciple. The Gospel of John tells us that Andrew was a actually a disciple of John the Baptist when he heard John refer to Jesus as the Lamb of God. Andrew then followed Jesus to the place where Jesus was staying and he stayed with Jesus for the rest of the day.
Then as Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Andrew with his brother Simon Peter, casting a net into the sea—because they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.
The Bible is full of stories about people who have experienced the call of God. Abraham responded to God’s call to lead his people to the Promised Land. Moses heard God’s call to lead the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt. And the prophet Isaiah experienced a call to deliver a powerful message to God’s people.
The people of Isaiah’s time were living self-centred lives, paying little notice to God or their neighbours. God wanted someone to grab their attention and set things right. Isaiah told the story that he heard the voice of God saying, “Whom shall I send?”, and Isaiah replied, “Here am I; send me!”
The notion of a call is central to the meaning of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, God calls us into a relationship with Himself and with each other. And it is through Jesus that we receive God’s grace to heal our broken relations and to set them right. And to what is Jesus calling us? In a word: righteousness.
Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the scribes, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. The righteousness that Jesus spoke of is a loving relationship with God and with our neighbour. And like Isaiah, Jesus made it clear how that relationship should be revealed: setting the prisoners free, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving a drink to the thirsty, welcoming a stranger. For when you do this to “the least of these”, said Jesus, “you do it for me”.
When we look around at our world today, the needs seem overwhelming. As we hear the call of God we might find ourselves questioning how we can do what Jesus instructs us to in the face of so much suffering. The Episcopal women’s society, Daughters of the King, carries out its quiet ministry of service day by day, fulfilling their prayerful motto: “I am but one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I ought to do. What I ought to do, by the grace of God I will do. Lord, what will you have me do?”
God’s call compels us to respond. And the call is simply this: to open ourselves to receive God’s redeeming love, his amazing grace, and then to love God and one another with the selfsame love. When we hear the call, may our reply ever be yes.
Rawls, James J. On the Way: 100 Reflections on the Journey of Faith. WestBow Press 2018.