Love is our Primary Vocation
During Israel’s history, God worked through the prophets from Elijah to Isaiah to Jeremiah up to the time of Jesus to expand the boundaries of the hearts of God’s people to include the poor, the weak and the Gentiles. When Jesus went to his hometown synagogue on the Sabbath, he read the passage from Isaiah 61 which was last week’s Gospel, outlining a three-fold ministry of preaching the good news to the poor, bringing liberation to the oppressed and captives and above all giving recovery of sight to the blind. Many showed amazement at his words while others showed hostility to his words. One of the reasons may be that Jesus extended his ministry or God’s love to all especially to the Gentiles, those who were considered outside the covenant. Here Jesus insists that God even goes beyond the confines of Israel into the territory of the Gentiles. This certainly filled the people in the synagogue with fury. To think that the prophetic promise of fulfilment would be extended to the Gentiles was to them pure blasphemy. Therefore, they drove him outside the city limits but Jesus as always passed through their midst and kept on walking unharmed. Their reaction is in fact very similar to the present-day settlers in Israel. Jesus, knowing their inner thoughts, pours oil on the flames by noting that two revered prophets of Israel, namely Elijah and Elisha, cured Gentiles rather than their own people.
It is obvious that whenever Jesus searched the scriptures for discerning his response to his Father, Jesus may have turned often to prophet Jeremiah, of all the prophets, because the prophet Jeremiah suffered the most in his own prophetic role. Jeremiah continued to be aware of God’s call to do battle on behalf of the oppressed and distressed. The call of Jeremiah that we heard in today’s first reading begins with verses of profound intimacy of God’s choice of Jeremiah before he was conceived and of God’s consecrating touch on his flesh while he was still on his mother’s womb. This speaks of nothing other than that prophecy was to be the life of Jeremiah. Today, for all of us, those Words of God also echo, “I am with you to deliver you.” True prophets know experientially that theirs can never be an overconfident, self-reliant and untroubled life. As a prophetic people by our own baptism, this is something we also need to realize.
What really makes possible fidelity or faithfulness to God and to one another is true love which is the greatest of all the spiritual gifts. This is the one that we are all called not only to receive but also to give. This is the simple and yet profoundly demanding message of St. Paul to the Corinthians and to us all. Prophecy, wisdom, generosity and even martyrdom are nothing unless they are born of true love. Today, Paul gives us an examination of conscience about love, on which we could well reflect on more occasions then at weddings. Last Sunday, Paul insisted that all gifts given to us by the Spirit of the Lord is for the function of the building up of the community.
Although each of us is called by God to a more specific vocation, either marriage, priesthood, religious life, or as single persons – we are all called to make love our primary vocation, and express that unconditional love of God for all people through our particular vocation.
By Susai Jesu, OMI
Vocation Team – West