James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him,
“Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.”
He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?”
They answered him, “Grant that in your glory
we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.”
Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the cup that I drink
or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?”
They said to him, “We can.”
Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink, you will drink,
and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;
but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared.”
When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John.
Jesus summoned them and said to them,
“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles
lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
For the Son of Man did not come to be served
but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A man goes off to college with a plan to study civil engineering, as much as his original desire was to be an architect. He was not accepted into architecture programs, so he felt civil engineering was the closest to architecture. He finds himself intrigued with the design and planning aspects of the program, but was not able to handle the math and science coursework so essentially gives up; and is at the point of nearly flunking out of college so he scrambles to find a major in which he would be able to remain in college. The man finds that urban planning is a great path which allows him to use his interest in design without the math and science, so he pursued a degree in urban planning.
As this man is studying, his time outside of the classroom leads him to discover Catholicism, and his faith deepens. He had the opportunity to take an elective course which was on the spirituality of Thomas Merton, and this sparked something within as to find a way to integrate ministry with urban planning. The integration did not come about until his first attempt of graduate school, and the man saw how urban economic development can go hand in hand with turning around a blighted neighborhood with the help of churches. As much as his advisor and the department faculty were interested in the idea, the man did not pass the comprehensive exam in order to finish his thesis.
He felt the tug to pursue priesthood, and after a few rejections he entered a religious order which felt he would be a good fit based upon his studies. In the end, things did not work out, but the priesthood calling was still there. Along a winding path of ministry and hurdles and discouragement which almost led the man to give up, came another opportunity to answer the call. There was a renewed zeal, even though more roadblocks were placed in front of him. The man began to question why the roadblocks were there, and started to withdraw from ministry while still saying he felt called. This statement of saying he was called is like James and John asking Jesus if they could sit at his right and left, while this man was not fully “in the game”, when Jesus point blank tells James and John that it takes more than wanting to be next to him; that there is a commitment and consequences to what they want.
The man realized that being called meant taking action instead of withdrawing from things, and searched for where he would be able to be of ministry. He found a new Church home, and another order. His desire to serve God returned, and was making progress toward ordination until personal issues in his life started taking over. His studies were put on the back burner, and he lost motivation. Great emotional pain set in, so he sought out hedonistic activities to ease the pain. It became a downward spiral of self-serving, instead of desiring to serve others; which Jesus strongly says that following him means to be of service to other regardless of all the consequences that shall result. The man said he was called to priesthood, but was not putting the effort into what it takes. Eventually the light bulb came on when reading the Gospel for today. He is going to get back on the ball and start doing what it takes…
Following Jesus takes more than saying that you are called, it takes more than popping in on Masses online, it takes more than chatting with the Bishop. It takes continual growth as a person, becoming the person God intends you to be because you put forth the effort. What is it that is stopping you from becoming the person God wants you to be? What are the things you hang on to that prevent you from fulfilling God’s will in your life? The question is: Are you “in the game” 100% to serve the Lord? Reflect upon that and decide.