On Being Called
A Reflection on Matthew 4:19, Matthew 19:29, Matthew 28:10, Luke 18:22, Luke 18:29
Br Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD, Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans Divine Mercy
Over the last 8 years I have pondered why I and any individual who believes they have been called by God to be God’s servant here on earth was called and what are our duties and responsibilities and what should be our priorities.
In Matthew 4:19, we read the following; “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers for people.” And in Matthew 28:19 we read; “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” which spells out our primary responsibilities; which are to make God known to ALL people and making them an active part of the Mystical Body of Christ.
Since we know that all the apostles except for St. John were married and had families, how did they resolves the problem of having families with what we find in Matthew 19:29 and Luke 18:29; “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”
Did Christ, who advocated justice, compassion and mercy and by his own life families, actually mean they should leave their responsibilities to their families or did He mean that they needed to put the needs of God and service to God first and foremost in their lives. I believe that God meant that God had to be at the heart and core of their lives and service to God and God’s children had to be the number one priority.
I believe that our responsibilities as a servant of God require us to have our priorities in the following order:
Firstly everything pertaining to the service of God and God’s children must be at the top of our priorities.
Since we have a responsibility to support and feed, clothe and shelter ourselves and our families we need to have a source of income that provides for our families wellbeing as the second priority of our life.
One way we who are called to be servants of God could incorporate both number one and number two priorities would be to work in an occupation like a nurse, doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, teacher, in nursing homes and hospices, working with the homeless, in food pantries, a corporation like Angel Flight or any field that services and helps people since that is what God has called us to do.
We have to teach the Truth of God and let people know that Gods is a God of Love and calls every human being to love one another by showing compassion, having charity, rejecting violence.
God desires that everyone care for one another, hold all people as equals and welcome all people.
One of the primary rules of the Old Testament was hospitality which is the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way. It was the lack of Hospitality that was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah not what some claim.
There is no greater calling a person can receive from God than to be a servant of God as a Priest and there is no role greater than that. All the titles, Monsignor, Bishop, Cardinal, are but political titles indicating a higher rung on the corporate ladder but the primary responsibility is that of a priest first and foremost.
The highest title in the early church was a Bishop, the titles Monsignor and Cardinal were additions and created to indicate a position of royalty which in my mind is completely in opposition to Christ’s teachings and example.
Christ and the first disciples wore simple homespun clothing, lived simply and rejected the trappings that the Hierarchy of Christ’s time had adopted. In Matthew 23 Christ admonishes them for their life styles and their rules that prevented people from the worship of God. “The scribes and the Pharisee sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others”.
Every day I pray that I will honestly fulfill God’s call to me to be his servant here on earth and I examin each evening how well I have done that day, I agonize when I feel that I have failed in some way by not being as kind as I might have been to a person who disturbed me in some way.
The following are two prayers I offer both morning and evening asking God through the Holy Spirit to help me be a good and faithful servant to Him.
“Almighty God, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you do; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me; Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in and through me all with whom I come in contact with each and every day. I dedicate myself to doing your will in all things and to becoming an instrument through which you might bring peace and harmony to all your children here on earth. AMEN
“Almighty and merciful God, open my mind, my heart, and my soul to your infinite love. Instill within me the knowledge of your truth. Guide me in your ways in all the things I do so that I may be unto others a reflection of your love towards them. Allow the light of your truth to flow through me towards them in order that they may come to know you better. I pray that all those with whom I come in contact with each and every day may be brought into a closer union with you and enjoy the promise of Your salvation earned through your beloved son, Jesus Christ, in His passion, death, resurrection and ascension. I humbly ask this in the name of your beloved son, Jesus Christ, who lives, and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, now and forever unto the ages of ages. AMEN
As Father Provincial of the Franciscans of Divine Mercy I ask every member of our small band of Franciscans Brothers and Sisters to always hold the teachings of Christ and our Seraphic Father Francis as their guidepost to life, to have God at the center of their life and to have compassion, mercy, respect and love for ALL God’s creation especially God’s children. That is what I feel we have been called to do daily as servants of God. AMEN