I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. . . . And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God (Ps 40: 2, 4).
What a tender image of our God the Psalmist offers today! God, like a mother consoling her child, stoops toward us, hears our cries, and puts a new song in our hearts. As we begin Ordinary Time, God repeats the action he has been doing throughout Advent and Christmastide: He comes to us through our tears, during the darkest, coldest months of the year, and gives us a song of hope.
During Advent, we are given the hope of a coming savior. At Christmas, we are given the hope of a new baby, Emmanuel. With New Years comes a new beginning and hope for change, celebrated with Mary, Mother of God. At Epiphany, the wise men’s visit ushers in a hope for the whole world, a king for all men and nations. And at the Feast of the Baptism, we celebrate our new life in Christ made possible by the baptismal waters.
Today, the feasts and celebrations have passed, our living rooms look bare, our tables plain, our plates devoid of pies. The feasting is over, but the singing is not. It is now that that wellspring of hope must be put to action, must spill out in our ordinary lives, in the work we are called by God to do. Will we do that work with a new song, a hymn to our God?
Though not a time for feasting, today could rightly be called Vocation Sunday. In every reading we are reminded that God throughout history calls his people: In Isaiah, he will make Israel a light to the nations that his salvation may reach the ends of the earth; St. Paul says he was called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and tells those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus that they are called to be holy; in the Gospel, John the Baptist tells us his vocation was to testify to one who ranks ahead of him, to testify that Jesus is the Son of God. You, mother, are no exception. God has a purpose and call for you, too. It may appear wholly ordinary, but it is a mighty, divine, holy work. Will you respond to his call as the Psalmist does?
Here I am Lord; I come to do your will. To do your will is my delight. God puts the song in our mouths. We don’t have to make up the tune or the lyrics. Our job is simply not to restrain our lips, so that his justice may be proclaimed in the vast assembly. What is the song, what is the hymn he desires you to sing this year? What work, done joyfully, will you offer as a light to the nations, to the assembly before you? That assembly of the children before you may not appear vast in quantity, but God has great plans for it nevertheless. So do not restrain your lips.