Last week I said that everyone gets called. But sometimes we don’t recognize it, because we’re distracted or ‘cause we’re not expecting it. But the call comes and looking at Scripture helps us recognize the Call when it comes.
First you have an encounter with Christ; an encounter with the Divine; then comes a calling. And it’s not we who encounter Christ; Christ comes out to encounter us. In every case, it’s God or Jesus who does the encountering (for more details on this first step, look at last week’s post).
Second: Just after the encounter, but just before the call, each person in Scripture had a profound sense of their inadequacy. They had a real sense of their uselessness and an awareness of their sinfulness. Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-2; 3-8) actually thinks that he’s going to die – that’s what happens when we’re in the presence of the divine- he says, “I am a man of unclean lips!” And Paul describes himself in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 as “one untimely born” or “abnormally born.” He is the “least of the apostles.” And he was; he used to persecute Christians. He was responsible for the arrest and even killing of some Christians. And Peter, when Jesus calls him in Luke 5:1-11, says “Go away from me, for I am a sinful man.” Each becomes aware of their sinfulness. This happens when we’re in the presence of God, but it happens before the call so that we know that whatever God is asking us to do, we will not do because we are so amazing; it is God who is going to do it through us. It’s also a good reminder of who gets called: Sinners. Sinners get called.
Last, just before the call, God asks us to do something strange or unusual. I think this is also so that we know it’s not us but God acting. Isaiah mouth is touched with a burning coal (not something I would recommend that you do at home). It makes no sense, but God says “trust me.” Paul is left blind and told to go to Damascus where Ananias will help him. Ananias is one of the guys that Paul was persecuting. “I know it doesn’t make sense; trust me.” And Peter, Peter is asked to take the boat back out. But it’s not the best time to fish and besides, there is no fish. Jesus says, “It doesn’t make any sense, but trust me.” And so, just before the call we have to trust and say, “Yes Lord, I will do what you are asking me to do.” Maybe it’s a bit of a test.
Then comes the call.
So, first you have a personal encounter with God; that encounter makes us aware of our inadequacy and last, that encounter involves trusting God. Then comes THE CALL. And this happens to everyone. God calls everyone. Everyone, at some point or another, especially if they are in a relationship with God, will be called. It’s not just for priests and people in religious life. This is one of the gifts of the Second Vatican Council: Everyone gets called. We’ve been sitting in the bleachers for way too long, it’s time for us to get on the ice!
And the call for everyone is holiness. We are all called to holiness. And we can best live our call to holiness in one of four main ways, called vocations: The single life, religious life; ordained life and married life. But it’s not our choice. They have been chosen for us. God has created us so that one of these vocations is our own personal and special way in which we can achieve holiness.
Some of you will be called to be holy through the Single Life. That’s good because not everyone is called to be married nor should everyone be married. And single people have a great gift of time – they don’t have the same family commitments and so they can serve.
And some people are called to the Ordained Life as deacons, priests or Bishops; or some are called to the Religious Life as sisters, brothers, monks, nuns, who live consecrated lives.
But most of us are called to the Married Life because that’s the way where we come closest to loving another person the way God loves us: freely, faithfully, fruitfully and totally. (St. John Paul II says in his Theology of the Body that “…the consciousness of the ‘spousal’ meaning of the body—constitutes the fundamental component of human existence in the world.” That means that living “spousally” is considered the purpose of our existence – it doesn’t mean that everyone should be married in this life – but we are all called to Marriage in the next life, for we will all be Married to the Lamb. Marriage on earth only pre-figures, points to – and sacramentally also truly is that to which it points – the Marriage in Heaven. It does mean that we are all created for this type of giving as exemplified in Married Love.) It is no coincidence nor surprise that most human beings are married for that has been written into our bodies – that’s the spousal meaning of our bodies.
But don’t forget that Marriage (as is every Vocation) is our way to holiness, to sainthood. God has given you your husband, your wife to help you be holy! You job is to help your husband or your wife to get to heaven! That’s beautiful! That’s definitely one reason why the Church takes Marriage very seriously.
Is that how you see your Marriage? This is your call to holiness. Do you live your marriage as a response to a call? Do you live your marriage as a response to a personal encounter with Christ? Do you live your marriage daily, as a personal encounter with Christ? Do you live your marriage with a keen awareness that you can’t do it alone and that you have to trust God all the way? Do you live your life, whether you’re married, single, ordained or in religious life, as a response to a call to holiness?
Mother Teresa used to say that God does not call us to do great things, but to do small things with great love. Maybe you will be called to do great things, I don’t know, but if not, do you live your life, no matter which vocation you live, doing small things with great love? Can we say yes to God?
Can we get on the holiness boat and set out into the deep?