Called to Serve

01-24-2021Pastoral ReflectionsFr. Brian

Pastoral Reflections: Our Old Testament and Gospel readings both tell us about people who instantly accepted the invitation of God. The people of Nineveh responded immediately to Jonah and the disciples accepted the invitation of Jesus right on the spot. Clearly, these readings have a major point for us. The people of Nineveh respond immediately and the disciples, both groups, abandon their work of fishing on the spot. The major point of this is that God expects the same from us. We are expected to seize the Call of God and respond forthwith. The response is supposed to be "right now!"—not: "When I am ready."

Making such a response to the call of God demands us to have faith, but also demands us to be free. Saint Paul in the second reading is advising us that we cannot let the stuff of our life get in the way of responding to God's call. When what is in our life keeps us from hearing and responding to God, we are not "free." We are weighed down or overwhelmed or stuck behind a wall. We must have and use our stuff of life for God.

Ironically, the people of Nineveh responded immediately and Jonah did not. He certainly resisted. The crew of the boat had to toss him overboard. He then was coughed up on shore before he finally got himself free from his stuff, i.e., "his issues," and focused on his call, which led to the fulfillment of his prophetic mission—the conversion of the willing and open-minded people of Nineveh.

In reading our Gospel passage from Mark today, we hear of the disciples accepting their mission instantly. The disciples immediately abandon their old way without even a second thought, when Jesus spoke to them and called them. Jesus touched them deeply. The disciples somehow recognized the one truth that was meant for them. This person, Jesus, was the promised one of God. They discovered in him the promised freedom of the sons and daughters of God. In this new undertaking, they were finally free. This does not mean that they were freed from their old work of fishing, but that they were free to serve the Lord in new and undreamed ways. Paul also describes this sort of freedom when he writes that people who take up the mission of Jesus Christ must be free from day-to-day worries.

Bear in mind that the Christian is not called to detach himself or herself from the world, from family, or relationships, but rather the Christian must be part of all this so that every-one and everything may be shaped and directed to serve the work of Christ. We all are called to use our time, talent, and treasures of the heart and hand in large and small ways to help bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.

Fr. Brian