The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
June 26, 2022 – Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 9:51-62
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We all live in a world where the passage of time and the movement of our lives is often on our minds. Jesus spent most of his life in one place, the small village of Nazareth. But then he went on the move. In today’s gospel he is departing his hometown to the main city of his time, Jerusalem. He set aside his carpenter’s tools and began his public life as a traveling rabbi. He eventually believed that it would be in Jerusalem that the main events of his life would happen. So, he left his familiar surroundings to fulfil what he believed to be his calling from God.
We often think of our lives as a journey from one place to another. Sometimes the places are geographical. They can be marked on a map. Sometimes our journey in life takes us through events that are more personal, like entering certain career, beginning a marriage or having children. Some interpret a spiritual or religious meaning to their decisions in life. Like Jesus, they felt that they are called to a certain way of life. In Catholic circles this was sometimes called “a vocation.”
For centuries the language of vocation in Catholicism was focused on religious roles, like that of a priest, or living in a vowed religious community as a brother or nun. When I was in Catholic school, there was often talk about whether one had one of those “vocations.” For awhile I imagined I did, and entered a seminary for a while. That didn’t work out, so I “returned to the “world.” I wondered that in departing seminary life, had lost my vocation? Fortunately, at that time the church’s understanding of these matters was changing. Definitely for the better.
About that time Vatican II was in session. One of its best ideas expanded the notion of vocation to include the lives of all. My own appreciation of a “religious” vocation expanded to include being an educator, a husband, a father and now a grandfather. All of those roles were holy. They marked the passage of my religious vocation, my life’s sacred journey.
And we reflect on the journey of Jesus from his hometown to Jerusalem, we might recall our own calling, our personal religious pilgrimage through life. And be reminded that our holiness is formed in the context of our unique passage through life. When we were created, we might say that God had plans for each of us. We were all being called to live holy lives in a thousand different places and in a thousand different ways.
©David M. Thomas, PhD