What do you want me to do for you?
I want to offer a humble reflection about this Sunday's readings. I wish I could follow a specific order, but I have decided to write as the Holy Spirit prompts me to do it. I write having in mind all you young people who are discerning a religious or priestly vocation. I hope these reflections throw some light, so, like Bartimaeus, you can see!
First Point: RELIGIOUS AND/OR PRIESTLY VOCATION IS A GIFT GIVEN TO SOME.
The Second Reading, taken from the Letter to the Hebrews, while talking about the high priests says that "No one takes this honor upon himself but only when called by God." Those of us who have been called and responded to God's call to the religious life or the priesthood would not dare to say that "we" made the decision to join a community or enter the seminary in the same way we would've chosen to follow a career. Rather, we considered religious life or the priesthood because, by God's grace, we perceived a call, an invitation, a divine seduction which was almost impossible to ignore.
Of course, it is an honor to become a bride of Jesus and/or to become an Alter Christus (another Christ), but the honor is conferred on us by God in all gratuity. John Paul II states in Vita Consecrata that "The profession of the evangelical counsels thus presupposes a particular gift of God not given to everyone, as Jesus himself emphasizes with respect to voluntary celibacy (cf. Mt 19:10-12)."
Second Point: WE ARE IMPELLED TO ABANDON EVERYTHING WHEN WE HEAR JESUS CALLING US.
In the Gospel, we see that when Bartimaeus hears Jesus calling him, he "throws aside his cloak, springs up, and comes to Jesus."
Well, some of us definitely have not sprung up and followed Jesus like Bartimaeus because we lacked his faith. But many of us, after a period of discernment, decided to throw aside the cloak and follow Him. For Bartimaeus, being a blind person and probably being a poor person as well, the cloak meant everything he owned; it was his security.
To follow Jesus is not easy, Jesus is demanding. We must throw the cloak, abandon our families, our comforts and our plans for the future.
As I talk to young people who are discerning, they tell me that they are discerning where they can serve Jesus better. Maybe that is not how the discernment should go. In my humble opinion, it is not a matter of where I can serve Jesus better, because after all, God does not need our service. He is God!!! He has the power to do everything!
Maybe the question to reflect on should be: Has Jesus asked me to follow Him? There is only one thing God would not do: violate our freedom! As powerful as God is, He would not oblige us to surrender our lives to Him.
So, for you young people discerning God's will, it is not a matter of service (even though definitely it is involved since every community has an apostolate) but of surrendering your life to God. Saint Mark points out that "He appointed twelve so that THEY MIGHT BE WITH HIM and he send them out to preach" (Mark 3:14). Our first and foremost duty then is to become one of Jesus, to be with Him.
Have you heard his voice? Is the person of Jesus attracting you in a way that He becomes your spouse, in a way that He becomes more valuable than many children, a nice house and a car, a successful career?
Has Jesus whispered your name? Then, like Bartimaeus, TRUST JESUS and leave behind what has been your life and cling to Jesus' hand and follow Him wherever He goes.
Third Point: JESUS WILL CONFORM YOU INTO HIMSELF.
The first reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah says that "They departed in tears, but [God] will console them and guide them; [He] will lead them to brooks of water, on a level road, so that none shall stumble. For [He is] a Father to Israel."
Also, the Book of Revelation says that we will be given a white robe that has been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Religious life and priesthood are a white martyrdom, but when one loves, one is ready to sacrifice everything for the beloved to become one. And we long to become one with the crucified and risen Jesus.
All of us have shed tears when we have said our byes to our families and friends, but one moment of spiritual consolation is worth many tears.
Believe me, after thirty something years of religious life, I can attest to what Saint Teresa of Avila says about Jesus, she says that this King knows how to repay his subjects, giving them many graces and consolations. God is such a good Father, confidant, companion, consoler, bridegroom. In Him all the lofty dreams of our little poor human hearts are satisfied.