Saturday, March 8, 2014

Jesus is Calling

Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.”  – Luke 5:27

Commonly the call from the Lord is interpreted as for a chosen few. We tend to believe the call is for somebody else. Ordinarily the term is thought to be in reference to those thinking about the priesthood or religious life. While there is no doubt that there are those called to serve the Lord in a particular way as a Priest or Religious Sister, the call is not reserved for them alone. The call is for every Christian. The call to follow the Lord is an invitation to be intimately connected and in relationship with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t wait until we are perfect or have everything in order to make that invitation. Although it is true Jesus calls us at varying times for diverse reasons and tasks, the call itself does not wait until we believe we are desirable enough for the Lord or when we feel we are fully “qualified.”

The common responses to a call from the Lord are normally: Who me? You have the wrong person! I’m not holy enough! I’ve made too many mistakes! Certainly there is someone better! Excuses and more excuses. We all have them. Yet, Jesus doesn’t respond by saying, “maybe you are right, sorry for the inconvenience, I will be on my way!” No, Jesus knows exactly whom He is calling! He is calling a sinner, like you and me. He calls us to get up from where we are in the midst of the sin, excuses, comfort, and fears to follow Him.

I must admit it is not always easy to follow the Lord. He expects the best out of us. He expects us to look forward and not to look back. He expects us to trust Him to get to the heavenly destination, yet conveniently doesn’t inform us of the side roads it will take to get there. Despite our own apprehension, Jesus is faithful. Through it all He forgives us when we fall short, He encourages us when we want to turn back, and He walks with us through every twist and turn.

Imagine how the world would be if every Christian truly felt called and fully embraced the mission! Look back at those Jesus has called and reflect on their story: Think about Peter, Andrew, Paul and the other Apostles. Recall Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, and Nicodemus. Remember John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi and other great saints in the Church. Great is the number of remarkable people that responded to the call of the Lord. They include not only individuals known by so many, but numerous others known only to the Lord. I recently heard a person’s reflection that every great saint in the Church first considered himself or herself to be a great sinner. Those we know as Saints were not great or remarkable because they were perfect. They became great and did remarkable things because they acknowledged themselves as sinners and still responded to the call to follow the Lord.

There is no doubt in my mind that choosing to follow the Lord will change the world even if only one soul at a time. Will you respond to the call and be a part of it?  Will you have the courage to overcome your sins, excuses, comforts and fears to follow the Lord? 

Lent is the perfect time to listen more attentively to the call! Be not afraid.

(P.S. For those who have already responded to the call from the Lord, you can use Lent to reevaluate your own journey with the Lord. Are you faithfully following the Lord? Have you been distracted? Are you holding onto anger or any resentments? Have you wondered from Jesus' path and taken your own? Ongoing reflection and evaluation is key to a life with the Lord.)

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