Our baptism calls us into service to the Lord

JANUARY 19, 2020 SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (Lec. 64)

1) Isaiah 49:3, 5-6

2) 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

3) John 1:29-34

Gospel related: CCC 408, 438, 486, 523, 536, 608, 713, 719, 1137, 1286, 1505

FOCUS: Anyone here who has ever been a part of a pickup basketball, football or baseball game as a youth and was not overly athletic knows the anguish of hoping and praying not to be the last one chosen. Now, on the other hand, if the boss was looking for someone to take on a large project that would involve a lot of time and energy, our hope and prayer might be the opposite – stare at the ground and try to become invisible.

In our three readings today, first the prophet was called, and then Paul, and finally, Jesus was called. There was no staring at the ground in hopes of being overlooked – no worries they would be the last one tapped to be God’s servant. In each case, the invitation to service was boldly embraced.

So, today, let us talk about each of us being chosen to be God’s servant. Is this a welcomed call? In an ideal situation we would all say “yes” – yes this is a welcomed call. But on this side of heaven, we do not live in an ideal world, so our answer to the invitation to be God’s servant may cause us to hesitate in boldly saying “yes.” This is quite normal and understandable given all the demands placed upon our time. There are, after all, only 24 hours in a day, right?

It is important here to remember that Isaiah dealt with hardheaded people, and Paul started out persecuting Christians before he became one. Jesus was tempted in the desert and agonized in the garden before he accomplished the Father’s will. We are in good company with our hesitations and difficulties. While we might hesitate for what we think are good reasons, as believers, as followers of Jesus, we can never excuse ourselves from our responsibility to be God’s servants.

Being God’s servant does not necessarily mean running to the nearest seminary, convent or monastery to become a religious or ordained minister of the Church. Although those are indeed good things! What it does mean is seriously reflecting on how God is calling each of us to be his servants.

Yes, some are being called from among our number here to serve the Church as priests, sisters or brothers. Many more are called to marriage. And apart from those vocations, and no matter our state in life, we are all called to holiness.

Let there be no mistake. By virtue of our baptism, we have been called to be servants of the Lord. There are no excuses or exemptions from this call. Our task, therefore, is to live out the call to serve, by growing in faith and holiness. According to the catechism, Christians are “sanctified … [and] called to be saints” (CCC 1695). Nurses serve, accountants serve, maintenance staff serve, parents serve. Our “job” does not preclude, or improve, the opportunity to serve. As long as we have the love of Christ alive and well within us, then we will be good and faithful servants. And with God’s mercy and grace, we will one day join the communion of saints giving glory to God, forever.