HOMILY: What it Means to Be Called by God

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This homily is brought to you by Fr. Brian Zumbrum, OSFS, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, friend and fellow alum of the Washington Theological Union. He is currently serving as Director of Mission at Nativity Prep in Wilmington, DE.

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A | January 18/19, 2014

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first and second readings.

When I was young, I wanted to be a superhero. C’mon who didn’t want to be able to fly, or use super strength or read minds?

I remember having vivid daydreams of racing into burning buildings to lead people to safety, of rescuing helpless children trapped under a pile of rubble.

I was going to be someone special.

As I got older, I realized that super strength was definitely not one of my gifts. And despite appearances, my ears were not big enough for me to fly.

But that doesn’t mean I lost those visions of grandeur.

I still daydreamed of how I would become special.

Only this time, it involved a collar. I saw throngs of people coming back to Church because of my profound preaching. I saw myself standing before huge crowds denouncing injustice. I saw myself dying bravely for the faith that I loved.

I was convinced that I had discovered my vocation. Like the prophet of Isaiah, I would become God’s servant. I would be a light to the nations. I would be an instrument of God’s salvation.

I eagerly cried out, Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.

So imagine my confusion and disappointment when none of it happened.

I didn’t gain a halo.

The collar was just a piece of plastic.

And I was the same young man that I was the day before I entered.

What did I miss?

I thought I had answered the call. I thought I had faithfully followed where God was leading me.

So why did it all seem so ordinary? Why was life still filled with its share of monotony and sadness, frustrations and questions? Why didn’t I feel special?

I thought a lot about my naiveté as I was reflecting on these readings for this weekend. For I believe that my former understanding of vocation is not unusual, though it may be a tad dramatic.

Too often, we have this idea that each of us has a narrowly defined box labeled our vocation. Our life is meant to be a grand quest for this elusive vocation. And we will never be perfectly happy until we have arrived.

And yet, for the vast majority of us, this is not what we experience our lives to be. We are disappointed by those we work for and those we live with. We are hurt by the spouse we love and the children we raised. We may be where God wants us, but that still doesn’t make it any easier. We experience the hard truths that life isn’t perfect. And neither are we.

Thankfully, our naïve picture of vocation is not the one we find in our readings today.

On the contrary, our readings offer two lessons that fundamentally challenge our narrow perspective on what it means to be called by our God.

One, we are reminded that we are not special because of what we do.

We are special because of who we are, from those very first moments in which we were formed in the womb.

We are God’s beloved children.

And therefore, it does not matter how much money we make or how many prayers we say, it does not matter how many people we have slept with or how dark our past may be, it does not matter what our title is or how many awards we win.

God is with us. Loving us. Rejoicing in us. Forgiving us. Comforting us. Believing in us.

And therefore, as beloved children of God, we are able to live a life of holiness right now, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.

Whether we are where we know God wants us to be, or whether we are still searching or whether we are stuck or whether we are falling. We can still be holy.

And that my friends is the second lesson. Life will not be perfect. We will not be perfect.

But we can still become holy.

For we can offer each action in love to the one who first loved us.

We can turn all of the myriad activities of our lives into opportunities for grace.

Whether we are where we know God wants us to be, or whether we are still searching or whether we are stuck or whether we are falling. We can still be holy.

Changing diapers and paying bills. Meeting deadlines and trying out for the basketball team. Mending fences and kissing scraped knees. Washing floors and picking up trash off the floor. Tolerating roommates and finishing homework. Sitting through meetings and sitting in traffic.

This is the true material of which a vocation is made.

So let us stop searching for perfection and embrace that path that we are currently on realizing that it is the only path in which we will encounter God.

Life truly can’t get more special than that. May God be Praised.

Image courtesy of Photokanok / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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