Today’s Gospel is compelling. See Matthew 10:34-11:1 At first glance it looks like a very dictating and demanding Jesus. I wrote about it recently (See Spreading the word) and thought about the divisional side of relationships with Christ and others. Today it hits me differently. You are still calling us Lord. Because we are a hard-headed, blind and deaf people to anything other than our own needs and desires.
I never – or don’t recall, ever having considered the vocation of being a religious. I have many friends who are Priests or Sisters and I can’t imagine their having any other kind of vocation. As they shared stories of being called, it wasn’t that it just came to them in the middle of the day like a new idea, but that it was nourished by prayer and time with Jesus. Probably in all cases, they had spoken with another who helped them by asking questions and giving feedback to ponder. My life was ordered to finish high school and get married; then have babies. Whether it was my own desire to get out of the house and have independence, or just the order of what was presented, neither college nor religious life was shown to be in my future. I’m not blaming anyone; I didn’t live in a box and could see the many vocations. The thought didn’t occur so I believe God didn’t call me to it at that time in my life. I wonder, though, how my family would have taken it if I had received a call and chose to be a Sister.
Would a vocation in a family cause division or an invitation for parents and siblings to embrace their own faith, or run further from it? Would it be very hard to say I support you but don’t make me do that because I like my world and the way I live in it? What one person chooses and then shares with another does have impact on them. We naturally compare ourselves in our thinking, actions and words. It certainly could become a division that a son would become a monk, brother or priest and never marry, have no children. Parents adore and look forward to the grandchildren! Now consider the joy for them if their son was a Priest! Someone chosen by God to be his personal conduit of the Mass! Or a Sister who gives up a mate, surrenders herself to a rule and says no to the liberties and freedom of a single or married woman, but is in constant prayer and sacrifice for those family members.
My thoughts are it’s all in how you look at things. Lord, you give us life, you feed us and show us the way to you through prayer, sacraments and your saints. You gave us the commandments, beatitudes and virtues as the moral compass guiding our way in this world. You sent us your Spirit to be with us always. You explained everything we need to know in your written word so we would travel the journey you set before us, returning one day to you. This life I have is yours – and I’ve said this before – all I am – is because, and from, you. I started this post saying you are still calling us. Yet because we are so caught up in ourselves, we have a hard time hearing you, listening and recognizing your presence. Didn’t you already call and I missed it? I’ve come to realize in slowing life down and spending more time with you, it’s not too late – it’s never too late.
This week as I head to a retreat where I will take a deeper step in a Community I’ve participated in for the past 18 months, I wonder about the future. This next step is not a vow; it’s a first promise, a decision to live my life with a commitment to prayer and self-giving focused on spiritual formation. I hold onto the graces given thus far in your encouragement Lord of my steps; I look forward to living and doing hopeful work to bring me closer to you in all you place before me. Keep your eyes on the Beloved, for He will bring you peace!