Scripture Reflections – Sunday, January 19th, 2014

Is 49:3,5-6; 1 Cor 1:1-3; Jn 1:29-34
Did you know that you have a vocation? I don’t mean that each one of us is called to the priesthood or the diaconate or to religious life. I mean that each one of us has a calling (“vocare” is a Latin word that means “to call”). And while the particular ways we live as disciples of Jesus will vary, the fundamental call beneath all of our individual gifts and choices is the same. St. Paul tells us in the second reading: We are all called to holiness.

If you read the document on the Church drawn up at the Vatican II Council (“Lumen Gentium”) you’ll find that one of the chapters in entitled, “The Universal Call to Holiness”. The idea that every member of the faithful has a calling struck many Catholics who read that document or heard about it at Sunday mass as something new. St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, however, shows us that the idea was always there right from the beginning. Even before the sacrament of Holy Orders and the ordering of religious life began to take the forms that we are familiar with.

What exactly is the call to holiness? It can be understood and described in many ways, but here’s the one that has the most meaning for me. “Holiness”, I once read, “is seeing life through the eyes of Jesus.” A holy person sees him/herself and every person she/he meets in the same way that Jesus does. Imagine how wondrous life must look through those eyes. Imagine how ugly even the slightest disfigurement must look when it mars even the smallest part of that beauty. If I accidently cut through a page of today’s newspaper with a knife I wouldn’t think twice about it – but if I did it to a precious painting by Van Gogh or Rembrandt, I would be horrified.

If the task sounds daunting, consider this. You ARE already living out this vocation. Those moments in your life when you experience love or wonder or joy or peace are all expriences of holiness. What St. Paul reminds us, and what I’ll be thinking about this week, is that those moments are not accidents. They are sacramental reminders that we are truly standing on holy ground. And we have a divinely given right to be here.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

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