Plugging back in after a long weekend, details in a yet to come post, here are my thoughts for the Sunday Readings, as heard on Sacred Heart Radio this morning:
I remember like it was yesterday. I left the campus ministry that night and walked, aimlessly, confused, dumbfounded really. This can’t be right, wrong number, not interested, my plans involved family, a career, success! Priesthood? What?
How could Jesus be calling me to be a priest? I am not perfect. Yeah, I mean, I like going to Mass, I like talking about my faith, I’ve seen some pretty powerful things; but this is so not what I want to do.
The next day was worse. The first thing I thought about was the priesthood. This after hardly sleeping the night before, and to make matters worse I had a Calculus exam coming up! (Hey, if I go to the seminary, no more Calculus!)
I imagine that while St. Matthew was obviously overjoyed at what he was invited as Jesus passed by, he also had doubts and concerns. We all do. How could Jesus actually be calling me, a sinner, to this great responsibility?
But I am convinced that what happens to St. Matthew in this Gospel account will also happen at some point in the life of each Christian disciple as well. We will be sitting idly by at our customs post, minding our own business when we will encounter Jesus along the way. He will simply look down at us and ask: Will you follow me?
There are two possible responses. The first, like St. Matthew, that even though we know our faults and failings, even though we may be thinking 'Lord, WRONG number!' but I'll follow and see where this leads. If He gets that first step, He'll work on us as long as we're open and lead us where He wants us. The second response is like the rich young man in the Gospel: no, it is too much for me. We sit idly by as Jesus walks past, too concerned with image, too concerned with money, power, prestige, that we are unable to act. We are unable to respond to Jesus' gratuitous invitation.
How will you respond? He still gives the invitation to follow, will you respond? He still calls Taylor, Julie, Wayne, Stephen...
I can tell you that I have never regretted the choice I made as a Freshman in college to follow after him, to respond. Sure, it was not always easy, just as it was not always easy for St. Matthew. He face persecution, ridicule, and eventually martyrdom. To live the life of a priest today, and really even to live the life of a serious committed Christian today is to live a life of martyrdom. Jesus never promises that it will be easy to follow him. If you want easy, there are myriads of other options out there. However, what He does promise is that if we take His yoke upon us, the burden is easy and light. He helps us to overcome our own weaknesses that we might be freed to serve Him more completely.
True happiness comes in knowing and following the Lord into true freedom, of giving your life so that others may live. Are you willing to accept the challenge to follow Him unreservedly?