Are you living fully into the life you are being called to live?
When I was in high school and looking at possible careers and trying to match my interests and desires with my aptitude and ability I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. The problem often was that what I wanted to do did not always match with my aptitude or ability. For as long as I can remember I always knew that I wanted to be a priest, however the advice at the time was to find another career or do different degree first. With that in mind the prevailing interest was health care. I realized that the two, priestly ministry and health care, could work well together and complement each other. The problem was that I did not have the grades to go into medicine and become a doctor. So soon I settled onto nursing. Again grades and aptitude would pose as a problem. The key being that nursing is a Bachelor of Science Degree. Math and science are not my strong suits. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would be able to be accepted into a science program. Somehow, someway with a little luck and some persuasion with the admissions department I was accepted into the Bachelor of Science Nursing program. The next formidable hurdle was going to be able to complete successfully the required course load.
Slowly but surely with lots of study I was able to complete the course work and graduate. What I never thought would be possible was possible and happened. I was a newly minted Registered Nurse with a Bachelor of Science Degree and the person having the last laugh was me.
We read today two contrasting call stories in Scripture. In the first we hear about Elijah and Elisha the master and his student. Elisha is full of eagerness and energy and jumps into his desire to take over from Elijah with enthusiasm. It seems as though things come easy for Elisha. He is with Elijah every step of the way and doesn’t miss a beat. He is fearless and dives right into what he believes he is called to do.
Contrast that with our Gospel where we read about how Jesus is on the road again. Interesting to note that many important things happen when Jesus is on the road or travelling. Road implies journey and transition. Sure enough Jesus meets people along the way who are in transition, ready for a change. Many of them want to follow Jesus and come up to him with all sincerity and truth, “I will follow you wherever you go” (Lk 9: 57) one says. Another person is invited to follow, however he needs to first bury his father. Another person needs to say good bye to family and friends at home. Reason after reason, excuse after excuse, and obstacle after obstacle people come up with reasons as to why now, this moment is not the right moment to follow Jesus. Procrastination was alive and well in Ancient Israel just as it is alive and well today.
All these reasons are perfectly valid and reasonable. It is reasonable to make sure your affairs are in order before going on a journey, to make a significant change. Of course it is understandable that you would want to bury your father or loved one before leaving. That is a pretty big reason why now, today may not be the best time. This is not the point that Jesus is making. What Jesus is really saying to these people is, “follow me”. No more excuses, no matter how big or small they may be. If it is not these excuses and reasons today holding you back, what are the reasons and excuses going to be tomorrow, or the next day or the day after that? It is easy to say that we will do something. It is a lot harder to follow through.
Jesus invited people to be disciples that day. All they needed to do was to say “yes” and follow. We as the church are called today and every day to be disciples. All we need to do is listen, follow and obey. But that can be hard to do. We too can think of many excuses and reasons as to why today is not a good day. The reasons are many: been there done that, not enough time, not enough people, not enough money, not enough, not enough. All probably perfectly good and reasonable reasons. That is not the point. God has called you today. The work is now and the mission is now. We are the ones called and we are the ones that despite the obstacles are called to use what we do already have for God’s work in the world. It is easy to list off the reasons why something won’t work, why today is not a good day. But what would happen if we changed the formula around. What would happen if we started to list the reasons why we would follow? The reasons why we would say “yes,” drop everything and follow. I wonder what would happen.
The amazing truth is that we will find when we look at how and why we would respond and say “yes” to the Christ, the church and the needs of the world is that we actually do have enough and all that we need to follow our call as a people and a church. Because of that we will be surprised and amazed at what we can do collectively together. Amazingly we will find all the many valid and reasonable reasons why we can’t respond or why today is not a good day will look after themselves and fall into place the way they need to.