Picking up from the Gospel of John, last Sunday, which recounted John the Baptist’s handing on of the baton to his cousin, Jesus, and his consequent instruction to his disciples to follow HIM, we turn to Mark’s account today which depicts Simon and Andrew, James and John dropping and abandoning everything to do just that—follow Jesus. Last week I wished to underscore the obvious theme of “Call and Response.” And, of course, the most important call and response of one’s life, has to be one’s ongoing and dynamic vocation from God. But the readings of this Sunday actually bring about a shift in theme as they draw our attention to what has to be part of the first request on the lips of one who follows, “TEACH ME YOUR WAYS O LORD!”
How could it be otherwise? Except that when we figure out that life is indeed a vocation, then we must also realize that we need to be schooled by the Master in the ways of that vocation—HIS ways. The people of Nineveh demonstrated that it is possible even to have learned God’s ways, but then to willfully stray from them for whatever motive. And St. Paul, like Noah long before him, reminds those who stray that time could be running out on repentance: “For the world in its present form is passing away.” So if vocation was the word for last week, FORMATION is the word for this week.
Last week I asked, “Do people see their lives as vocations?” This week I must follow up with, “Do we recognize our constant need for formation in our faith?” If we are not so aware of our daily lives as vocations from God, it is not a wonder that formation in God’s ways can too easily, even too tragically escape us. For that reason, personally, I welcome and celebrate all the new opportunities in our Church for continuing education and formation.
This is a good thing. After all, we entrust our lives to all types of professionals and civil servants upon whom we depend to be formed and educated in the best and the latest. We are right to expect training, education, certification, license, and degrees for those entrusted with our education and spiritual formation in the Faith.
So as you and I consider today, Simon-Peter and Andrew, James and John, let it not escape our notice that before they were “licensed” and sent out at Pentecost, they literally walked and journeyed with the Lord for three years, being mentored and schooled by Jesus himself! What education and formation could be more important for any one of us than formation in the ways of the Lord—our formation in Christ? For all of us at St. Rita and for all in our church who would be teacher and/or student, let our prayer be that of last week’s Samuel—“Speak, O Lord, your servant is listening!”
In the mind of St. Rita Pastoral Council (and in my mind), declaring a “Year of the Holy Eucharist” at St. Rita, was all about providing opportunities for that particular part of faith formation. We are working hard to get those opportunities up and running. Would you believe Eucharist on Facebook, Instagram, and even podcasts? Stay tuned. In the meantime, thanks to all of our ministries and groups that have already introduced Eucharist formation into their 2018 plans and schedules –AND to you who have submitted your personal commitment forms!
Personal Note: Thank you for your understanding and support regarding my sharing with you that I needed to significantly reduce the use of my voice. I had an appointment on Monday with my doctor and he was most pleased and impressed with the effort! I am also sorry that this new reality even further diminishes my allowance to accept invitations and schedule appointments. My secretary, Paula, has her instructions—please be kind and merciful to her.