God’s call is always inconvenient
Roman Catholics were reminded that God’s call is always inconvenient, and as they came together during their annual city-wide Lenten Mission they were urged to hold on to God and keep with him until they can hear clearly what he is asking of them by guest speaker, Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon, archbishop of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad.
“This week I want to ask you, that no matter how inconvenient God’s call might be, that if you hear his voice during this week ‘knocking at the door’ of your heart, do not give it up,” said Gordon during night one of the five-night Mission.
Speaking to them of the first time he heard the call on him at age 16, which he said was inconvenient, and which at the time he did not answer, he told them to not do as he did and decide on their own that it is not from God.
“Hold on to him and keep with him until you can hear clearly what he is asking. If you experience that knock, asking of you something — that you open wide your heart to the grace of Jesus Christ. Do not be afraid to yield your heart to God. One of the deepest truths of the human existence is that we start off in rebellion to God — Adam and Eve — and therefore, submitting to God seems to be the one thing we really don’t want to do,” said the archbishop.
With the theme of this year’s Mission “Our Vocation to be Missionary Disciples” — Gordon asked parishioners whether they had made the decision to follow Jesus. He said the decision should not be half-hearted and that they should not zig-zag along the way.
“We’re going to make this decision in a way that is resolute, and in a way that will ensure that people who know us would know that we have decided something in our life that is different this week. Have you really made that decision or you ain’t so sure you make the decision yet? But wherever you are on that decision to follow Jesus, what I’m asking is during the course of this week that you deepen that decision — that we come to a resolve around that decision and we take that decision to new places during this week.”
So you have decided to follow Jesus, I can now go home this evening and my work done. Because what the good archbishop asked me to do was come to make sure his people has made this decision to follow Jesus for missionary discipleship.
One week into the Lenten season, the archbishop reminded Catholics that it is one of the most marvelous times of the year, and a special time in the liturgical cycle.
“We have all kinds of times and seasons. With Christmas you can’t do better than a little child being born … and all off a sudden big adults gone to ‘goo goo’, and ‘gaga’ and talking in tongues all of a sudden, so you can’t beat Christmas. And Advent has this incredible time where we’re waiting in joyful hope, and the Ordinary time of the year we’re going through the rhythms of our life and we’re doing it in the ordinariness of our life.
“Easter is this moment of incredible joy — this high moment where it’s a climax of 40 days of fasting that we have had, but Lent is what prepares us for the Easter joy. The depth of which we enter into Lent is the height to which we experience that Easter joy, and if we enter into Lent deeply, then the Easter joy will be an elation; if we just do it in a mediocre way, then the Easter joy would be so-so,” said Gordon. “So we enter the beginning of this Lenten time, into this week of reflection, where we are asking ourselves questions about missionary discipleship, and what it is to be a missionary disciple.”
At Mission being held at Loyola Hall on Gladstone Road, Gordon said he was approaching it through a particular perspective — a lens of vocation.
He inquired of Catholics in attendance at Loyola Hall whether they had a vocation, to which one person responded, to be the best she could be. Gordon told attendees that the best person they could be is a saint, and that everyone has a vocation to holiness.
“God has called every single one of us to holiness, and the way he does that is through different paths that he asks us to walk through. No matter how far you believe you are from the goal of holiness, God has called you to holiness. God has called you to be a holy man, a holy woman. And the way that God calls to holiness is through the path of vocation.”
He said the five different levels of vocation include personal vocation, how God has called a person by their name; calling them to use the gifts and talents he gave them for the building up of the Body of Christ; their state of life, whether he called them to be a priest, bishop, deacon, a married person, a single person or lay consecrated person; and the voice of conscience which he said is the voice of God, that nagging voice when a person wants to do some foolishness; and the fifth level of vocation that Pope Paul VI said is an authentic integral human development is the vocation of the church, that they are called to grow and develop every person, and every dimension of the human person.
“We have been called to become the best version of ourselves and to help everyone around us become the best version of themselves, and we do that by incremental growth consistently. That we are a people who have been called to grow every day, and to do that consistently, and that’s how we become a saint. You don’t start off as a saint, but you end up as a saint because you’re doing the right thing everyday, and you’re doing it consistently.”
Each night during the Mission, Gordon was expected to speak to each of the vocations.
“What is God asking of you? How has God called you? This is really the heart of it, because the personal vocation is what animates every other level of God’s call to us. And when we are living vocation on these five levels we become missionary disciples, because we become a people who are constantly discerning what God is asking of us, and constantly responding to God no matter what God asks — no matter how difficult it is, no matter what the challenge or the obstacle — we are a people who are listening, discerning, and responding to God.”
Gordon said he was 16-years-old the first time he heard the knock on his heart and life. He said it upset him deeply, troubled him, and was an inconvenient “knock on the door of his heart,” and an inconvenience he was unprepared for. And he wasn’t willing to listen to very deeply.
“It was an inconvenience because it sent me in a direction I didn’t want to go and in a direction I couldn’t see to be possible for my life. I know different now thank God. It was an inconvenient request, an inconvenient call, and many times when God calls us it is inconvenient.”
Gordon told Catholics during night one that God’s call is always inconvenient. But he told them that no matter how inconvenient God’s call might be, that if they hear his voice during the week “knocking at the door” of their heart, to not give it up, and not give in as he did because they think it’s inconvenient.
Archbishop Patrick Pinder also reminded Catholics on night one that the annual Lenten Mission is an opportunity for them to gather to encourage, to support, and to affirm each other as they begin the Lenten journey.
“This is the very first week of Lent, and we use this occasion to open our hearts to the Word, as we begin this process we call Lent leading up to Easter. This has been something we have been doing for so many years. It began with my immediate predecessor, Archbishop [Lawrence] Burke. Our task of course is to open our hearts to the Word proclaimed, and to focus on this theme of our call to be missionary disciples,” said Pinder.
The Catholic Lenten Mission concludes on Friday, February 23.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.