15th Sunday of Ordinary Time
July 12, 2015 7:30am and 9:00am
Parish, Bel Air
Today’s readings got me thinking about my first thoughts of becoming a priest.
I was about eleven years-old. When I look back, I almost can’t believe that the idea of becoming a priest came to me so early.
I very much admired some of the priests in my home parish. And I thought I wanted to be like them and do what they did.
It was that simple at first. Then, there were lots of twists and turns in the road, doubts about it, and a lot of maturing in my motivation.
In the end, I was ordained a priest at age twenty-five and here I am today. I am enjoying being your pastor!
Well, that’s a snapshot of my vocation.
And that’s the word we use to name this – a vocation, a calling, and a mission from God to do something. This morning, I recommend that all of us look at our lives in this way.
As I said before, the readings really speak of this today. The key words are “took,” “chose,” and “sent.”
The prophet Amos says that God “took me” from what I was doing and told me to do something else. Saint Paul says that God “chose us” to live holy, God-centered lives.
And Jesus “sends” the apostles to do his work. These are vocation, calling, and mission words.
I think we all have this from God. And I think it is very helpful for us to look at our lives in this way.
It’s something like wearing sunglasses and looking at everything through these lenses. I see two responses we are to make to God – two dimensions to our vocation.
First Response: Self
The first response is the giving of ourselves.
We do this by using the gifts God has given us. So, most obviously, we go to school and learn whatever we can.
Maybe we are good at math, and so we work at this and take advance placement and develop our math skills as best we can. Or maybe it is music, language, chemistry, biology, sports, whatever.
We develop the abilities God has given us. We may not think of it this way when we are doing this, but this is responding to God and to vocation.
As part of this first response to God, we also have to deal with our rough edges. All of us come out of our growing up with some stuff we have to deal with.
Maybe there is some unresolved anger and we have to get to the root of it. Or maybe there is conflict with our parents and we need to do our part to resolve it.
Dealing with our stuff and moving forward is important. The more we deal with this successfully, the clearer and fuller will be our response to God’s calling.
Second Response: Others
And then the second response we make to God is the giving of ourselves to others.
In other words, we grow as persons and develop our talents. And now, in some way, we use all that we are for others.
A clear example of this is husband and wife. They give of themselves to each other in marriage.
And then, God willing, they together give of who they are to children. This is a wonderful vocation and many of you have done this.
I saw a different kind of example of this giving of ourselves to others two weeks ago. One of our high school youth has been taking dance lessons.
I have known her and her interest in this. Well, I saw her assisting at Vacation Bible Camp and leading 225 children in song and dance.
I could just see the life in her face as she did this and how wonderfully she brought so much out of the children. What a great example this is of responding to vocation and using for others what God has given us.
So, vocation, calling, and mission from God!
I recommend that we all see our lives in this way. It is a wonderful lens through which to appreciate and live our lives.