Isaiah 49:3, 5-6
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
"I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth."
The readings for today’s Mass took me down a path that invited me to reflect upon Awareness and Acceptance. These are challenging attributes of a good and wholesome life. They need to be life-long companions if we are to make any progress in our spiritual journey. For me, these two dimensions of a healthy spiritual life challenge me to review my life’s calling within the context of God’s Plan.
After reading and rereading the Scriptures for today’s Mass, I became aware of the development that was taking place in each of the key persons in the readings. In the reading from the Prophet Isaiah, there is a growing awareness that the servant’s role is developing beyond the typical understanding of servant, someone who works for a master. Isaiah says, "It is too little, the God says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach the ends of the world." As Isaiah fulfills his ministry of being a servant of the Lord, he becomes a witness to God’s glory.
The second reading begins with a greeting from Paul, who identifies himself as an "apostle." This was a bold claim because all of the "apostles" were identified as those who witnessed Jesus’ life, passion, death and resurrection. Paul did not begin his preaching ministry thinking that he was an apostle. He became of aware of that development as he continued to preach Christ crucified.
The Gospel reading also gives us a glimpse of John’s awareness of his mission: to point out the Messiah when he appears. When Jesus asks John for his baptism, John correctly says "A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me." John is definitely aware of his identity and his mission.
I believe that it is important for us to become aware of who we are before our God, of our mission in life and the graces we need in order to accomplish our mission the best we can. If we were to continue reflecting upon the lives of the three people referenced in today’s readings, we would find out that their lives were filled with challenges, missteps and sufferings. Just because we are aware of who we are before God and we are called to a mission in life, does not mean that we will escape the ups and downs of life.
So awareness is not enough. We also need to accept what God has put before us so we can fulfill our calling as servants, apostles and prophets. None of us can escape these callings. As we become aware of them, we must accept them, with the grace of God.
Fr. Clemente Barrón, CP, is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.