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6 OT A ~"Consider Your Calling" ~ Susan McGurgan

When St. John Paul II preached on this passage

from the Mount of Beatitudes twenty-three years ago

he began by quoting Corinthians,

“Consider your calling, brothers and sisters.”

He invited his listeners to envision two high places—


where the people of Israel

received the Law,

and the Mount of Beatitudes,

where Jesus illuminated the Law

bringing it to its fullest potential.

Sinai and the Mount of Beatitudes—

two roadmaps

marking the path of discipleship;

two beacons,

lighting our way.

“Consider your calling.”

This call into discipleship

is not simply an invitation

to believe in Jesus,

and follow him.

It is more.

Much more.

It is a call that plunges us,

ready or not,

willing or reluctant,

confident or terrified,

deep into a community.

Within this community of disciples,

Jesus teaches us

that we are accountable for our actions,

our words- even our innermost thoughts and attitudes.

And no matter how private

we might wish to be,

no matter how much we might

want to hide or hedge our bets,

this new community binds us so closely

that we become one with God,

one with the person across the aisle,

the stranger down the street,

the immigrant at the border,

the believer in a distant land—

one, even,

with the vast number of pilgrims

who have come and gone before us.


Now, I don’t know about you,

but this sounds more like hard news

than Good News.

It flies in the face of


we’ve been taught about survival and success.

In a world that celebrates rugged individualism,

rewards inflated egos,

places a premium on self-sufficiency,

and scorns the needy and dependent,

Jesus preaches the importance of






In a world obsessed with outward appearance,

Jesus teaches

that what lies beneath the surface


In a world that promotes independence and freedom,

we are called to conform ourselves

so closely to Christ,

that even our thoughts are converted.

It would be so much easier—

and safer—

to simply follow rules and laws;

to color within the lines,

set the GPS,

clean up our own messes,

allow our private thoughts to run amok,

and let everyone else’s spiritual chips

fall where they may.

It is so much easier to mask

what we are thinking and feeling—

to spackle over our ugly ideas and attitudes

with a wink and a smile,

or continue to stuff them down—

so far down

we might just choke with the effort,

than it is to actually root out

envy, prejudice, hatred, fear

and allow ourselves to become whole.

But consider our calling.

Jesus calls us

to become builders and sustainers

of communities that are alive with hope;

communities of believers responsible for,

and accountable to,

each other…

even in those thoughts

we dare not speak aloud.

Jesus calls us into communities

that illuminate the law

and bring it to its full potential and purpose—

that is: to honor God

and to honor, protect, and serve each other.


we are saved.

This teaching is challenging

and hard,

and frankly,

strange in the eyes of the world.

And most of us,

if we are honest,

can look at the flawed and fragile people

in our own parish,

and then gaze at the flawed and fragile

face looking back from our own mirror,

and mutter,

“This place?

These people?



Seriously, Jesus,

maybe that approach worked for


and Peter,

and Mary,

and Phoebe,

You know…saints…

but that vision of community—

this kind of commitment—

Well, it will just never fly

in Cincinnati.

Or Stillwater.

Or Salina.

We will fail before we even begin.”

And it is true,

this perfect commitment will always lie

just a bit (ok, maybe a lot)

beyond our grasp.

But there will be grace

and goodness

and growth in the striving.

The path itself,

rocky as it may be,

will teach and form us.

This calling is much more

than a call to rules and laws,

as helpful as they can be.

Rather, as Jesus makes clear,

our calling is nothing less

than an invitation to be transformed,

in community.

On this earth,

we will always live in the tension

between the call

to help bring about the Kingdom

and the struggle

to overcome self and sin.

On this path of discipleship we will stumble,

even fall,

but we will do it together

or not at all.

“Consider your calling, brothers and sisters.”

Pope John Paul II Homily to Youth, March, 2000

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