Today’s Gospel Reading at the Sunday Mass comes from Mark 6:7-13:
and gave them authority over unclean spirits.
He instructed them to take nothing for the journey
but a walking stick–
no food, no sack, no money in their belts.
They were, however, to wear sandals
but not a second tunic.
He said to them,
“Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave.
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you,
leave there and shake the dust off your feet
in testimony against them.”
So they went off and preached repentance.
The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
In my book Cooperating with God: Life with the Cross I talk a lot about how the mission of our Lord Jesus compares and contrasts to the ‘Heroes’ Journey’, and here is yet another instance of that common narrative we’ve always found throughout the history of literature; that oftentimes what God calls us to do is radically different from what we have called ourselves to do. Just as I reached up and ripped those leaves from their branch, God oftentimes snatches His vessels away from their current life and immerses them into the service for the Kingdom.
The Prophet Amos has always had a special place in my heart; simply because Amos 4:7-8 was one of the first verses of sacred Scripture that I ever had to memorize. Up until the time that I became a Freemason I had never really taken the time to study the Bible or read it longer than it took to read it with a glance. It was through those years of being active in the Order that I became very knowledgeable about the Old Testament – so much so that at one point in my life I had even began to study Judaism with some thought of converting to it.
In my January 2011 radio interview with Stephen Hand I talked a great deal about my life as a Freemason and my conversion to Catholicism. I told Stephen that the only reason why I’m not a Freemason today is because I am Catholic. What I meant by that was that it’s not through Scripture alone, or because of any bad experience with the Order, or because of any other reason why I walked away; rather, it’s only because, and rightly because, of the Catholic Churches teaching that these two institutions are not compatible with each other is why, through obedience, that I chose the better half.
In college I had discovered by my gift and love of writing and speaking, but it was my activities in the Masonic Lodge that helped to cultivated that gift as I became a prolific writer of books and treatises on the subject, as well as well-traveled speaker. I love writing and speaking so much that I consider it to be one of the three times in life when I feel most alive. The other two are when I am with my daughters, and at the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. All three of these times are gifts from God. Gifts that were freely given and gifts that fill me more fully only when I give them away and not try to possess them to myself.
When it became clear to me in 2006 that I had to let that part of my old life go I worried that I would miss being able to write about what I loved, but it wasn’t long after my conversion that God began to convert my gift and love for His glory – He gave me a new love to write about.
I think it’s so beautiful that Jesus sent the Twelve out with nothing but what they needed; most importantly being His teaching and authority. Anything more than that would have been a distraction and would have gotten in the way of their purpose and the reason why they were called and sent. I remember in my life before Christ how inadequate I would feel unless I had an abundance of money and possessions – things that I didn’t share. Now I feel inadequate when I can’t write and share the gift that He has given me.
I believe a clear indicator that you are fully alive in your calling is when your life has become so simple that there aren’t distractions and obstacles to you being able to share your gift. Sometimes people want to make serving God difficult – they need this or that first, or need this person to do this or that before they can do what they have been called to do. On the contrary, it doesn’t take a committee meeting or a new wardrobe to serve God with the gifts He has given you. If you know your gift, just prayerfully wake up ready to give it away. That’s all you have to do, and God will take care of the rest. If you make the decision everyday to serve Him alone He will clear your paths and open your doors.
If you want to be happy and fully alive in your calling then dare to have the audacity to give away your gift without fear of rejection – dare to have the audacity to give away your gift without worrying about what you don’t have in place – dare to have the audacity to give away your gift without having any experience, know-how, or professional training – dare to not possess what isn’t even yours to possess.
“I will listen for what God, the LORD, has to say;
surely he will speak of peace
To his people and to his faithful.
May they not turn to foolishness!
Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him;
glory will dwell in our land.
Love and truth will meet;
justice and peace will kiss.
Truth will spring from the earth;
justice will look down from heaven.
Yes, the LORD will grant his bounty;
our land will yield its produce.
Justice will march before him,
and make a way for his footsteps.”
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.