The call of the unworthy
The theme of today’s readings, especially today’s Gospel (Matthew 9:36-10:8), is divine vocation.
At the sight of the crowds,
Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them
because they were troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd.
Then he said to his disciples,
“The harvest is abundant
but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”
This passage applies most obviously to fulltime ministerial vocations and it is very important for us to keep a special focus on those whom God is calling to the priesthood.
We should also keep strongly in mind vocations to the permanent diaconate and to the consecrated life. Respect should also be given to the vocation to a devout, chaste single life.
Yet we must also remember, especially on this Fathers’ Day, that God calls most of the flock to the sacrament of Matrimony and the vocation of parenthood.
It is perhaps one of the greatest fundamental problem of our culture today that people – even good Christians – forget that marriage and parenthood are vocations. They are not simply lifestyle choices nor are they rights that trump all other considerations. Too many people today look on marriage and parenthood merely as prizes to boost their self-esteem and some even will pervert and destroy anything that gets in the way of their desired prize.
It is critically important that those who are called to marriage and parenthood should cherish them as the gifts from God they are.
It is sometimes challenging to live marriage and parenthood as vocations in today’s world not only because the world tries to portray them as lifestyle choices rather than vocations, but also because of the publicity given to disastrous examples of marriage and parenthood: from wacky celebrities to the local perpetrators of domestic violence and child abuse.
This also applies to the celibate vocations, especially priesthood, since the terrible crimes of sexual abuse by clergy have been so well known in recent years.
Today’s readings, however, remind us that God’s vocation needs to be answered, even though others may have followed that same path with evil results.
There is no greater example than in today’s Gospel, the center of which is Christ’s calling of the Twelve Apostles – the greatest of the ministers of his Church – and yet one of those twelve, Judas Iscariot, would commit the most grievous of evils.
Although the betrayal by Judas was no doubt disheartening to the others, the dignity and the power of apostleship remained. The eleven went on with their great work and another would take the place left by Judas.
Neither were the Apostles discouraged by their own imperfections: especially their leader, Saint Peter.
The words of Saint Paul in today’s second reading (Romans 5:6-11) give us the perspective we imperfect people need.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty
does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person
one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners
Christ died for us.
How much more then,
since we are now justified by his blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God
through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
but we also boast of God
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.
We are unworthy.
We are not perfect, but God is.
May we answer God’s call and live fully – each and every day – the vocation he has given us.