The past week has been a rush. Down to St. Leo’s in Florida for two days, drove up to western Virginia in the mountains and am now on my way to Arlington Diocese to make a visit at my old church Nativity.
I spoke to the students at St. Leo’s about their call to greatness and a call to love and of course, God kept that talk alive in my own heart this past weekend at my friend Mark’s confirmation retreat. The whole weekend really took off and went to amazing places but mainly centered around the idea that we are here on the planet for one thing: love. We are to be in relationships with each other, with the planet, and with God himself. This is a little bit about what I had been thinking leading up to this week and through out it.
This year has been hard for me because I am not able to do many glorifying things. I sit in front of toilets for a couple hours trying to fix a part before realizing that the replacement piece is broken too! I mow and weed for weeks on end. I have to fix water pipes all the time and many times make matters worse. However, this year has also been even better than last year. It is better because I am fulfilling a piece of God’s plan.
God has a special calling for everyone of us. He is calling us to greatness. Who here thinks that they can do greater things than Jesus Christ himself? He does. He says so himself. My missionary brother, Erik, pointed out a verse to the rest of us the other week. John 14:12. ‘Amen, amen I say to you, those who follow me . . . will do even greater deeds than these.’ Every single one of us is called to something great. It is an individual calling. You are not called to the same greatness that I am. We have a saying at Covecrest: ‘Become who you are’ JPII. And by becoming who you are made to be you are going to accept a long journey to greatness that God has specially designed you for.
Inside every one of us we have this natural desire to be a part of something bigger and better. We want to change the world. Our deepest desire is to be a part of an exciting adventure that makes a difference. But so often this desire is warped by the world. Who has studied theology of the body? A main point that it makes is that every desire or action that us humans make or have is rooted in truth. More importantly it is rooted in a desire to love and to be loved. The problem is that some of these desires get warped by the world or by the devil. It is changed and becomes a hollow shell of what the true desire is and can be. A main piece of theology of the body is about sexuality so for this instance it is saying that behind every sinful action there is a deep desire to just be loved and to love in a complete vulnerable way. The desire to give up ourselves to someone else (Christ). It is rooted in our desire to be vulnerable and completely open with each other. Yet the world twists it and sells us short of what the real truth is.
Likewise, our desire to change the world, to be bigger, and to do great things which is instilled there by God himself can change and become warped into a desire for fame, celebrity status, and acknowledgement. The world twists what is a God given desire for greatness and a piece of his life and heart. It sells us short. It tells us instead to get fame and recognition and wealth so that we might be known among the entire world. We begin to be concerned with our selves and how we are putting ourselves out there. But that is not where God is calling us to be great. Jesus does say that we are going to do greater things than Him but He does not mean that we are going to be famous, or going to have worldly acknowledgement or that we will even be rewarded by the world.
So then how are we called to be great? Simply: we are called to love. Who wants to be like God or at least a part of him? If you do then you need to do one thing: you need to love. 1 John 4:16 says plainly God is love. Thus, if we want to be a part of God we need to be a part of love. And since we are called to love and called to be great we are then called to love in great ways. But here is the snitch, so often we let those desires that I talked about earlier consume us and instead of loving in great ways we just try to do exciting big things. And we fail to recognize what God wants from us because all we want to do is exciting things defined by society or worse. I fall into the trap all the time.
Loving in great ways does not mean going to a third world country and building houses for the rest of your life. Or giving up all your possessions and living on the streets with the homeless. That is not a definition of great love (it is sometimes a result but not the start). St. Therese is the patron saint of missions. Why? She never left the convent that she lived at and she died in her early 20’s. So why is she the patroness of missionaries? It’s because the call to missions starts in our own home with loving the people around us.
Where great love comes in is in the place that you are at right now. I just went to confession today and the priest said something that I always forget to keep in my heart, God loves us where we are at. And since we are called to be great and to be one with him, we are called to love where we are at also. You might just be a student, or a teacher, or a marketer, or a fast food cashier. Whatever the case, you are being called to greatness. And that means to love as a student, teacher, marketer, etc. . . . It means to love the people that are immediately around you. It is so easy for us to go to third world countries for a week and radically serve the people that you meet. But it is so hard for us to come back and love our very neighbor or sister or brother or classmate. Why, because we are trying to follow the world’s definition of excitement and greatness.
I know that that makes us afraid because we haven’t been exposed to any other kind of greatness. But trust me! God is not asking you to lead a mediocre life. He is asking you to live a great life and if he is doing that why would he forget and not actually make it great. If we were to answer his call to love the people around us, wouldn’t he respond and turn our small acts of love into amazing feats of strength. He does that all the time. He does it constantly in the bible! He takes a third of the army or one small boy or a carpenter’s son and changes the world with it. What is he gonna do with us?
These were all just a lot of thoughts I had throughout the past week. Many of them were borrowed from other people and their own reflections. God is good because God is love. We are good because we are love. Let’s start living up to our potential.