Week of Guided Prayer
“Called by Name”
written by Ann Campanelli
As a young girl growing up on the outskirts of a small town in Ireland, I loved playing with my five siblings and many friends. On occasion, the kitchen window would suddenly open and my mother’s voice could be heard calling: “Yoohoo! Ann!” Immediately, I would go running to her. When Mammy called, her children always responded. “Please run up to Creegan’s (one of the local grocery shops) and get a loaf of bread and a pound of butter for this evening’s tea.” Without further ado, and with a few shillings in hand, I obeyed. Besides the “urgent “need for bread and butter, the foundation of my response to my mother’s call was love: I knew I loved Mammy and that Mammy loved me.
Although the word “call” can be a noun, I like to think of it as a verb, something one does, or more fundamentally, what God does. God, first and foremost is calling us into relationship with Him. This relationship is not based on fear, but on God’s eternal, committed and personal love for each of us. God says, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1b)…..”Because you are precious in my sight, and honoured and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4a). How awesome is the truth of God’s relationship to us. Immersing ourselves in this reality is the only context from which God calls us to respond.
There is an interesting encounter between Jesus and Peter at the end of the Gospel of John (John 21:15-17). It is after the resurrection. One morning following breakfast with several disciples, Jesus pulls Peter aside and they go for a walk together. Jesus quickly gets down to urgent business with Peter. However, Peter, being weighed down with sin after having denied Jesus three times, is uneasy. But Jesus allows Peter to undo his triple failure with a triple affirmation of love. Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves him: “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16a) After responding affirmatively, Peter is called to “tend” and “feed” the flock. Jesus’ call to Peter is not founded on leadership skills but on love of the Lord. Listen to Jesus Who asks you the same question. Don’t overlook the human dynamic at work when Jesus asks Peter the same question a third time. Peter feels “hurt”, but finally acknowledges that Jesus knows “everything”- his failure and his love. Is Jesus not reminding you that knowledge of our own sinfulness does not hinder the call to a sincere love of Him Who is ever merciful? Peter listened and responded to Jesus’ call. Can you hear and respond like Peter?
Finally, the name Jesus uses when addressing Peter is noteworthy: “Simon, Son of John”. Why not just Simon? This is deliberate. Jesus is being very specific to whom he is speaking. He is also very specific when he addresses and calls you. In prayer, listen to Jesus who names you and calls you.
(Your name), do you know that you are precious in my sight and that I love you?
(Your name), are you aware that I know everything about you?
(Your name), do you love me?
Prayer: Jesus, you know everything about me and love me as your precious child. Help me to know this in the depths of my being and to respond lovingly and confidently each day to your call.