In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Vocations is perhaps one of the few places “open for business”. The Lord continues to call in the midst of these worldwide health concerns. Even for me as Vocation Director, I have been wonderfully and pleasantly surprised by those who hearing and beginning to answer the Lord’s call in sincerity and authenticity. It’s for this reason, after many months I’ve decided to “reach out” by way of my Blog once again.
My Easter Blessings to all who happen here! I rejoice today recalling Easter 17 years ago when something changed. What I’m talking about isn’t ontological (though it is) or theological (though it is). I died to my old way of life and emerged from the waters of Baptism, a new man. There are many days (far too many to count) when I am far and away from feeling like “a new man” as I am well aware of my sinful folly and the many ways that I don’t live up to what it means to be Christian, what it means to live my life as a Disciple of Christ. And I’m a priest. Before you think that what I mean is that makes me somehow better than others, I DON’T THINK THAT AT ALL. Being a priest means I should have no excuse and yet I manage to find excuses for my weaknesses, shortcomings and sins.
First of all, I try to constantly remind myself of this when I interact and deal with others. If I fail at being the best Christian and Disciple I can be, then it’s important that I not ever be judgmental of others – because we’re all in this (life/world) together. That doesn’t mean that I don’t keep trying to be the best I can be, and that doesn’t mean that I should overlook everything that others do either. I need to keep working at living up to the perfect gift of Eternal Life that Jesus gave me (and all of us) Easter morning. He came into the world to give it, but it was given Easter morning. We are in this life’s journey together. What this means, and should always mean is that we help each other. Jesus’ own earthly life was one of love and mercy, of setting the bar high as God desires of His people whom He made to be perfect but also giving us a means and a way back to Him when we haven’t measured up.
The first 32 years of my life which I reflect upon now as “a lead-up to God’s plan” and these past 17 which began on Easter morn are about “walking humbly with my God” recognizing life is an amazing gift patterned with both challenges, sufferings but also with many, many joys. Life is always about both. I used to think that Christians “buried their heads in the sand” and talked about the Cross of Jesus when it came to life’s hardships as though it was somehow an explanation and a very poor one at that. As a Christian, I know that’s not true. There is no making sense of what Jesus was put through Holy Week culminating in His Crucifixion on Good Friday from anything life is supposed to be about. It’s in the Resurrection and the Return of the Risen Lord and the Promise of Eternal Life that sense can be made of everything He (and we as His followers) go through. The Christians life is to face realistically and with faith our own “crosses” which can be at times simple and small and sometimes heavy and truly burdensome. We were meant to cherish, embrace, appreciate and enjoy this life here in this world, for it’s a Gift from God and He Himself enjoyed His life too. But we live for something beyond it and prepare ourselves for that as well. We celebrate that today.
In these tough and challenging days we are all going through, perhaps some with heavier crosses than others to bear; I have come to encounter many reaching out and feeling the Lord’s Presence. I have spoken to many (and I include myself in this group) who given the time we have encountered God in a deeper way this Lent, Holy Week and now into Easter.
Often one of the first things men and women share with me, as to why they hesitate to follow through in discernment; is because of a sense of unworthiness. None of us, not one of us is truly worthy but we can’t allow our unworthiness (our weaknesses, sins and shortcomings) to eclipse the Lord’s call. He doesn’t want that for us. He gave His Only Son for the sake of all of that, not so we could wallow in unworthiness and all the reasons we shouldn’t be His followers and Disciples. He gave His Only Son who left the Twelve (eleven as Judas is gone) and then many others as well to help each other in carrying the crosses and carrying on the Mission.
So what’s next? Although we await, hopefully with Christian patience and with a sense of hope, knowing God is with us – the next reality we face when the world opens up again after this pandemic: I am moved by the number of people reaching out to me hearing authentic callings from God to serve Him and others. Easter is a season of hope, promise, a season where we really reflect upon why we are Christian and why we want to continue to be. My friends and fellow travelers on this journey; let’s pray for each other that this Easter will be one where many of us emerge stronger, committed and energized to be the Disciples that our Lord Jesus and the world needs.