By Fr. Erik Esparza
Commonly, the call from the Lord is interpreted as for a chosen few. We tend to believe the call is for somebody else. Ordinarily, the Latin term, vocare, translated vocation, which means to call, is thought to be in reference to those thinking about the priesthood, religious life or diaconate. While there is no doubt that some will be called to serve the Lord in a particular way as a Priest, Religious Sister/Brother or Deacon, the call is not reserved for them alone.
The call is for every Christian!
The call to follow the Lord is an invitation to be intimately connected and in relationship with Jesus. Jesus doesn’t wait until we are perfect or have everything in order to make that invitation. Although it is true Jesus calls us at varying times for diverse reasons and tasks, the call itself does not wait until we believe we are desirable enough for the Lord or when we think we are fully qualified.
The common responses to a call from the Lord can be: “Who me?” or “You have the wrong person!” or “I’m not holy enough!” or “I’ve made too many mistakes!” or “Certainly there is someone better!”
Excuses and more excuses. Many of us try to use them, yet Jesus doesn’t say to us, “maybe you are right, I have the wrong person, sorry for the mistake!” No, Jesus knows exactly whom He is calling! He is calling a sinner, like you and me. He calls us to get up from where we are in the midst of the sin, excuses, comfort, and fears to follow Him.
I must admit it is not always easy to follow the Lord. He expects the best out of us. He expects us to look forward and not to look back. He expects us to trust Him to reach our heavenly home, yet conveniently doesn’t inform us of the side roads it will take to get there. Despite our own apprehension, Jesus is faithful. Through it all He forgives us when we fall short, He encourages us when we want to turn back, and He walks with us through every twist and turn.
Imagine how the world would be if every Christian truly felt called and fully embraced the mission! Look back at those Jesus has called and reflect on their story: Think about Peter, Andrew, Paul and the other Apostles. Recall Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, and Nicodemus. Remember the saints, John Paul II, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio, Teresa of Avila, Francis of Assisi and many other great saints in the Church. Numerous are the remarkable people that responded to the call of the Lord. Those we know as Saints were not great or remarkable because they were perfect. They became great and did remarkable things because they acknowledged themselves as sinners and still responded to the call to follow the Lord.
The Easter Season is a wonderful time to reflect on God’s calling in your life. God offers us all new life and new beginnings. The Resurrection of Jesus proves this. Be not afraid! Never underestimate the power of one person’s ‘yes’ to follow the Lord. A ‘yes’ to God can truly change the world!
Now go forth and be a joyful witness!
Fr. Erik Esparza is Associate Director of the Office of Priest Personnel in the Diocese of San Bernardino.