Gone are the days when mom or dad would call their child home with a hearty yell from the front porch. Our 21st century parental calling efforts are simply a call or text from our cell phone, a device that everyone seems to have handy. However we hear the call, we are happy when, “I’m coming” is the response. That response is music to our ears especially when the response is followed by the person’s quick arrival.
However, we all know that, “I’m coming,” can be very deceptive. Depending on the urgency of the call, the activity left behind, or the connection between the caller and the one called, the response will produce different results. “I’m coming,” could mean: “I’ll be there in a minute,” implying that the person will come immediately. Or “I’m coming” could mean: “I will come but…,”meaning the person is busy and may come soon. Finally, “I’m coming,” may mean: “I will come, but only when it is convenient.”
Sometimes people are just not ready to answer any call, especially the call to discipleship because answering that call means more involvement than the person is ready to give. The discipleship call is never a part-time commitment, but an all-or-nothing proposition. “God wants you!” is a draft call originally thought to be directed to only a select group needed to carry out the mission of the Church. Those who responded committed themselves to a life of spiritual service. In the past, that select group committed themselves to full-time discipleship, allowing most of us to opt out of the discipleship role.
Today we realize the call is universal; everyone is called. To any call we can respond: “No thanks,” “Maybe later,” or “Yes, be it done unto me according to your word.” Answering the call does not necessarily mean canceling dreams and goals, but does require redefining and adjusting our life’s ambitions. The call directs us to live life in the most authentic way possible, struggling each day to choose our Options carefully in order to remain true disciples. That commitment is continually evaluated and adjusted so that the call received is forever a part of our faith journey. In today’s gospel Jesus answered his call as he continued his journey to Jerusalem and to his death. We are all invited to follow!
Jesus’ invitation is a direct and immediate, “Follow me!” That call, often at the most unexpected or inconvenient times, demands our response. His call can be gentle, requiring little inconvenience, and at other times, his call will require total commitment. Each call will either draw us closer to him or gradually distance us from him depending on our response. However, responding is always a choice made difficult by the lure of our world and its many attractions---money, power, security, convenience or fame. The greatest danger to His call is not our sinfulness, but our reluctance to trust the “leap of faith” that is always necessary.
We know that whatever the nature of the call, Jesus will never force our response. His invitations allow for no thinking-it-over, or looking-back. Jesus invites and we decide. Hans Urs Von Balthasar, one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, reminded us that, “God is dangerous. God is a devouring fire. God has cast his eyes on us. Take care, he is crafty, he begins with a little love, a small flame, and before you can realize it for what it is, he catches hold of you and you are taken.” We choose. If we answer, “I’m coming,” he will be waiting.
~ Deacon Wilson Shierk