A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Sunday, January 28, 2007

You have been chosen

Some of us think about vocation only in terms of particular vocations, such as a vocation to the priesthood, to the consecrated life, to the married life, and so forth.

Today's readings, however, speak eloquently to the reality that each of us one has a fundamental vocation that encompasses, permeates, and (in a sense) transcends whatever our particular vocation may be.

Each one of us needs to come to the awareness that Jeremiah did in the first reading (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19): to feel the Lord's uniquely personal assurance within our heart:

The word of the LORD came to me, saying:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

This is the insight that is the foundation for our personal relationship with God: that God reaches out from all eternity and from beyond infinity and loves ME - uniquely, specially, personally - me.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you...

In the same way, yet individually, God reaches out from all eternity and from beyond infinity and loves YOU - uniquely, specially, personally - you.

As I delve deeper into this insight, I also come to realize that God eternal has brought me into existence for a unique purpose - indeed, for a unique set of purposes: all bound together in my fundamental vocation as a child of God in Christ.

...a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

Likewise, God eternal has brought YOU into existence for a unique purpose - indeed, for a unique set of purposes: all bound together in your fundamental vocation as a child of God in Christ.

You are loved.

You are chosen.

There is immense, unassailable comfort in this, yet there are also challenges, for the world hates eternity and tries to sell us instead the false and ever-diminishing happiness of hedonistic moments, a quest for artificial meaning shackled within our individual consciousness, or the empty satisfaction of accomplishments that will be washed away by the river of Time.

Our fundamental vocation - our being loved and called by God - gives us the way to true happiness that will intensify for eternity, an invitation to be a discoverer (and in some ways a co-creator with God) of true meaning that has reality beyond our skulls, and the promise of everlasting satisfaction through grace-blessed, faithful deeds that will shine forever before God.

Yes, the world hates all this and gives us ferocious resistance.

But do you gird your loins;
stand up and tell them
all that I command you.

Be not crushed on their account,
as though I would leave you crushed before them;
for it is I this day
who have made you a fortified city,
a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,
against the whole land:
against Judah's kings and princes,
against its priests and people.

They will fight against you
but not prevail over you,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the LORD.

As is often the case, there is a parallel between today's first reading and today's Gospel (Luke 4:21-30): a beautiful and clear expression of personal vocation (beginning just before today's Gospel begins) followed by opposition from the world (in this case, his friends and neighbors).

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim
liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.

He said to them,
this scripture passage
is fulfilled in your hearing."

…. When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury.

They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong.

But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

This sense of being specially loved and chosen by God helped give Jeremiah the strength to stand his ground in speaking unpopular truths. This clarity of identity and mission was part of what enabled our Lord to walk through the murderous mob.

This same awareness can enable us to face the challenges that confront us every day (sometimes every hour): that we are chosen, that we are loved, and that through us must flow the truth of God and through us also must flow (as we hear in today's second reading - 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13)the special love of God which is charity.

But be zealous for the better gifts.

And I shew unto you yet a more excellent way.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
and have not charity,
I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

And if I should have prophecy
and should know all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I should have all faith,
so that I could remove mountains,
and have not charity,
I am nothing.

And if I should distribute
all my goods to feed the poor,
and if I should deliver my body
to be burned,
and have not charity,
it profiteth me nothing.

Charity is patient,
is kind:
charity envieth not,
dealeth not perversely,
is not puffed up,
Is not ambitious,
seeketh not her own,
is not provoked to anger,
thinketh no evil:
Rejoiceth not in iniquity,
but rejoiceth with the truth:
Beareth all things,
believeth all things,
hopeth all things,
endureth all things.

Charity never falleth away:
whether prophecies shall be made void
or tongues shall cease
or knowledge shall be destroyed.

For we know in part:
and we prophesy in part.
But when that which is perfect is come,
that which is in part shall be done away.

When I was a child,
I spoke as a child,
I understood as a child,
I thought as a child.
But, when I became a man,
I put away the things of a child.

We see now through a glass in a dark manner:
but then face to face.

Now I know in part:
but then I shall know
even as I am known.

And now there remain
faith, hope, and charity,
these three:
but the greatest of these
is charity.

We are chosen.

We are loved.