Jeremiah 1: 4-5 ,17-19
1Corinthians 12: 31, 13: 4-13
Luke 4: 21-30
"…Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous…."
Not long ago, I happened to see a job description in the "help wanted" section of a newspaper that read: "The successful applicant will be a dynamic, intelligent, take-charge individual who is talented, experienced, and able to bring an innovative perspective to management. Candidates must be creative thinkers, possessing independent judgment and leadership, outstanding relationship-building skills, analytical ability, and the vision required to challenge employees and to drive growth…" I remember thinking, "these people must think God is looking for a job"! Who else could fit all those requirements?
In today’s reading from St Paul to the Corinthians, we hear the job description for a Christian. "Love is patient, love is kind, it is not pompous, jealous, rude, or quick-tempered…it bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
That job description is one that none of us is really qualified for. If we were flipping through the "help wanted" section and saw a job description that said: "applicant must be patient, kind, not pompous, jealous, rude, or quick-tempered, most of us, if we’re real honest, would turn the page and keep looking.
I believe Paul is saying, "Listen to what Christ expects you to be and recognize that you cannot do it on your own." Are you always patient? Are you completely free of envy or jealousy? Do you have what it takes to endure all things? Paul asks these impossible questions so that we will realize that we cannot do these things that Christ expects by ourselves.
The answer, St Paul tells us, is that the position has already been filled. The Good News is that what we cannot do, God has already done in Christ. God became human and through his birth, teaching, and miracles HE DOES WHAT WE CANNOT. Through his care for the sick and poor, his love poured out in the Eucharist and on the Cross, HE DOES WHAT WE CANNOT.
Jesus is patient, kind, loving and forgiving. He makes us fit to be his disciples. And to do that, we need to become willing to surrender our lives to God who strengthens us.
The Christian job description is about ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD. We begin that job here. We never become the manager. We are always interns, apprentices and trainees. We have been hired not to lead but to follow, to imitate, and to pray that our earthly work of following Christ, may become an ETERNAL CAREER!
Deacon Brian Clements is a member of the retreat team at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, Calif.