Certainly this has been the case for me. Yesterday I went to Mass and it felt monotonous and dutiful. Don't get me wrong, I love Mass; I just wasn't really expecting any fireworks. Then, at the start of Mass, the priest explained it was the Feast of the Presentation and I sat up in the pew a little bit and began to focus in.
See, with the Presentation comes a great Gospel reading from Luke (one of my fave's):
When the days were completed for their purificationaccording to the law of Moses,Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalemto present him to the Lord,just as it is written in the law of the Lord,,and to offer the sacrifice of,in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon.This man was righteous and devout,awaiting the consolation of Israel,and the Holy Spirit was upon him.It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spiritthat he should not see deathbefore he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple;and when the parents brought in the child Jesusto perform the custom of the law in regard to him,he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,for my eyes have seen your salvation,which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples:a light for revelation to the Gentiles,and glory for your people Israel.”
Luke 2: 22-32
Simeon really impresses me, he's one of my favourite characters in the Gospels. He's told to wait for the Christ in the Temple, so he does. We don't know how long he waited, but you can hear him say: "Now, Master" in an exasperated tone!
What really impresses me about Simeon is that he was a righteous and devout Jew; and as a righteous and devout Jew he was expecting the Messiah to be a great saviour, a military and political leader against the Roman oppressors of the time. Yet Simeon has the discerning eyes to see that this little, humble baby is the Christ. We have much to learn from Simeon!
How many times in our lives do we pursue what we think should happen, rather than being fully open to God's will? We can deceive ourselves by calling it "God's Call", but really its "My Call" built upon our own expectations and fantasies.
Discernment doesn't happen only in your head. It's a movement of a thought or feeling between the head, heart and soul; which is tested against the needs and demands of the community. Simeon models this for us: he put aside his own expectations and was fully open to God.
It's God's call first. My call is to respond to God, however God might lead me. Expectations will get in the way every time, because as this Gospel reminds us: God's call isn't always what we expect.