It is too little, the LORD 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 to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6
Today’s readings invite us to think about the expectations we have for our lives. Sometimes our expectations coincide with other people’s, and other times, their expectations are radically different from ours. Some of us live our lives with a sense of fulfillment that we are doing what we wanted to do, and others of us live with a sense of disappointment and unhappiness because we realize we will never attain our expectations. When it comes to our expectations, sometimes we overreach and at other times, we settle for less.
The readings for today’s Mass are a reminder that it is God’s expectations for us that really matter, and no one else’s, not even our own. We often come to this conclusion after a painful discernment and at other times, the choice has always been obvious, but we lack the courage to say yes. For it takes courage and grit and fortitude to say yes to God. What we often don’t take into account is that God always does the heavy lifting when we say yes. Our readings are also a reminder of this.
The prophet Isaiah discerns that he is to be a servant of God. Then God tells him that he is not just called to be a servant but also the light to the nations of the world and that light will reach to the ends of the world. There are times when we underestimate what we can do for God, only to find out that God has more faith in us to do more.
Paul says in his letter to the Corinthians, that they are called to holiness. So many of us shy away from being holy. We may think that holiness means being perfect in everything, in our prayer and our behavior. But at its core, holiness means loving unconditionally, as God loves us unconditionally. When the saints figured that out, then God took over their lives and they accomplished all kinds of great things.
In the Gospel, John figured out who he was and who Jesus is: the Christ, the Savior, the one who is to come. Some of us spend our whole life figuring out that we are not Jesus the Christ, but rather his disciples. The thing is, who we think Jesus is and who Jesus really is are two different realities. Jesus is gentler, kinder, more forgiving, more loving and compassionate than we will ever be. Being his faithful disciples will get us where Jesus is! We don’t need to overreach.
God expects a great deal from us. And our response is: Here I am Lord, I come to do you will!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Mater Dolorosa Community in Sierra Madre, California.