Friday, January 26, 2007

Here I Am, Lord

This song has come in for a lot of criticism, and at the same time, it was (at least in the years before I entered the monastery) wildly popular. My own dislike for the song's text is that in conflating various Biblical episodes, it makes it sound as if we're doing God a favor by accepting His invitation. Furthermore, it is easy with that sort of theology to imagine that what is pleasing to my sense of goodness and self is therefore what God wants. How different are the actual Biblical stories of God's call (even Isaiah's and Samuel's, upon which "Here I Am" is supposedly based)!

"Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person. [Moses; Exodus 4: 13]"

"If I say, 'I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,' there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot." [Jeremiah 20: 9]

"Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." [Peter; Luke 5: 8]

A starlingly frequent occurence in contemporary stories of vocation, is that men and women follow Jesus Christ into the desert when they do not want to--"where you do not wish to go [John 21: 18]." How often do we hear monks and nuns speak of a naggaing feeling that won't go away?

And yet it is clearly more than a mere feeling: it is more akin to Newman's idea of the conscience. Confronted with the inexplicable grandeur of the stars, the glory of the sun, the vibrancy of life and the heartbreaking beauty of love and sacrifice, I estimate myself as falling short and needing to participate more fully in the grand drama. I find that whatever reasonable excuses I make for avoiding this duty, God is still somehow funneling me inescapably toward a final offering of my whole being. Something in me resists the entire way despite the obvious truth and beauty in this call. It is, of course, not always an enjoyable road: "You vex me on the left and the right! [my translation of Ps. 139: 5]," keeping me headed toward the goal. No matter the unpleasantness at any one point, however, it is a road that I can no longer in conscience leave. How small and unbearable would my life be were I to swerve to the right or to the left. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right on! God's ways are much bigger than ours. We don't see the forest for the trees, as it were. I often find myself accepting things (relating to God, the Church, my life) that I had rejected years before. I have to laugh at myself in those instances. How "smart" I thought I was!


This blog is published with ecclesiastical approval.

If I, who seem to be your right hand and am called Presbyter and seem to
preach the Word of God, If I do something against the discipline of the Church
and the Rule of the Gospel so that I become a scandal to you, The Church, then
may the whole Church, in unanimous resolve, cut me, its right hand, off, and
throw me away.

Origen of Alexandria
Locations of visitors to this page