“A feeling of utter unworthiness and distance from God is usually necessary before one accepts their mission.”
Perhaps you remember this.
“I'm looking for someone to share in an adventure.”
“An adventure? No, I don't imagine anyone west of Bree would have much interest in adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner.”
“You must learn the ways of the Force if you're to come with me to Alderaan.”
“Alderaan? I'm not going to Alderaan. I've got to go home. It's late, I'm in for it as it is.”
God calls us all the time but we find many reasons for not answering the call. Maybe we are like Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit” and think it will be too much trouble. We are quite comfortable where are thank you. Or perhaps we are more like Luke Skywalker from “Star Wars” and we are too tied to the world we know, too much afraid of what we may be called to give up.
Then there is Alex Rogan. Alex Rogan is the hero of the 1983 (highly underrated) film, “The Last Starfighter.” Alex is a teenager living with his mother in a trailer park. He spends most of his time helping the other (mostly elderly) residents of the park with the odd chore. Bur he dreams of getting out of the trailer park, going to college and making something of himself.
Then he meets Centauri who has come to recruit him to join in an inter-galactic battle and help save the universe. Alex is reluctant and Centauri tries to motivate him by considering what the world would be like if Christopher Columbus or the Wright Brothers did not answer their own personal calls.
“I'm not any of those guys, I'm just a kid from a trailer park.”
The stories we tell ourselves up on the cinematic big screen are a reflection of the spiritual journey we all undertake. It is a an epic adventure that God calls us to. An adventure to discover who we truly are and to find our place in God's salvific plan.
But few of us feel worthy of this calling. The prophet Isaiah has a vision of God on his throne and laments “I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips;.” Isaiah 6:5. Saint Peter, upon experiencing a miraculous draught of fish that threatens to sink his boat, drops on his knees before Jesus and begs Him, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Luke 5:8. Isaiah and Peter expressed their feelings of unworthiness when God called them to fulfill their mission. But God made Isaiah's lips “clean” with a burning ember and Jesus made Peter into a “Fisher of Men.”
A feeling of utter unworthiness and distance from God is usually necessary before one accepts their mission. God wastes nothing and each of us have our task, even if we ignore it and put it off for years, if we open our hearts to listen, we will always hear God calling us to accept our role and live for something greater than ourselves.
There is a popular radio talk show host who was fond of claiming he had “talent on loan from God.” It always puzzled me that his critics were so harsh on him for using this aphorism because of course we all have talent on loan from God. We are all chosen. We are all apostles. We are all sent.
But it is up to us to respond, to answer the call. And perhaps too often we equate answering God's call with worldly success. And while the two may go together they are not necessarily related.
The name Jan Henryk de Rosen may not be familiar to you but you have probably seen his work. Jan was a sacred artist working in the early 20thcentury. His murals adorn churches across the U.S as well as churches in Russia, Austria, and Italy, including the private rooms of the pope's summer residence at Casten Gandolfo.
He is perhaps best known in American for the magnificent mosaic of “The Fierce-eyed Christ” that cover the apse of the national basilica in Washington D.C..
De Rosen came to his vocation after serving in three armies during World War I, each of which decorated him with honors. He served as a military advisor, a diplomat, and a translator a the peace peace negotiations at Versailles.
He finally answered the call to vocation around the age of 30 when he entered the Warsaw School of Fine Arts. He once said "I did not want to be a painter, but I could not help myself."
Yet in spite of all his accomplishments and his skill and renown as a painter of sacred art, when he died nearly penniless in 1982 at the age of 91. Rather than seek worldly success he gave everything to God by serving his fellow man.
We can go on our way seeking wealth, fame and material things, or we can express ourselves in the work God has placed us here to do. And the world desperately needs us. The world needs fishers of men who speak the Truth with love.
God may call us at any stage of our life, young or old, in wealth or in poverty. To paraphrase the 35thpresident of the United States, perhaps it is time we stopped asking what God can do for us, and start asking what can we do for God?
5thSunday in Ordinary Time
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org and can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com