Go.

“The Call of St. Matthew” by Caravaggio. caravaggio.org

Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit. — Pope Francis

Last Sunday’s first reading was a brief excerpt from the prophet Amos. In it Amos responds to the Israelite priest Amaziah’s command that he, Amos, leave Israel and take his unpleasant prophetic message with him. Amos protests that he is no “professional” prophet, not part of the kingdom of Israel’s prophet guilds that would hang around the royal court and prophesy comforting words to the monarchy. Rather, he was called from the kingdom of Judah and commanded by God to abandon his profession as a shepherd and arborist to proclaim His word of judgment on the corrupt kingdom of Israel. God, Amos said, spoke to to him with that simple mission verb in the imperative: “Go.” In the Scripture this verb often seems to be the equivalent of another unsettling verb — Jump.

Every divinely given vocation implies a mission, but it also contains the gifts needed to do carry out that mission. And every gift given to me by God has inscribed within it the name of every person God intended that gift to serve. So even as I rejoice in the gifts I possess, I recall the words of Jesus: “To whom much is given much will be expected” (Luke 12:48). Though vocations can at first feel very me-focused — a sign of God’s particular love for me by name — missions are other-focused. My spiritual director of long ago gave me a phrase that has forever burned itself into my heart: “Whenever people laud your gifts, say: How much God must love them to give me these gifts! Gifts are only an indirect compliment from God to you; but are a direct compliment to others.”

An Orthodox Jewish Rabbi I worked with in Hartford back in the 1980’s once said to me, when I asked him what it meant to him that he was part of God’s chosen people:

Some chosen-ness! Disasters, enslavements, exiles, genocides, forever wandering the earth like our father Abraham. This is the terrible and blessed burden of being chosen, of making known His holiness among the nations. Baruch Hashem.

Baruch Hashem means, “Blessed is the Name (of G-d).”

Every celebration of Holy Mass, which binds our lives to the terrible Crucifixion and blessed Resurrection of Christ, is inscribed with the language of vocation and mission. We are called by God to worship and receive the Gift that empowers us for our mission: Venite, “Come!”  And we are sent by God on mission: Ite, missa est, “Go, be sent!” I recall one Sunday the priest-celebrant of the Mass, just before the dismissal, said: “You’ve come today to be fed, and you’ve feasted on God himself. Now go and feed the world with the food you’ve been given and watch Jesus multiply what you give away. Freely you’ve received, now freely give. Then come back next Sunday and share with all of us and God the fruits of your harvest. The Lord be with you…”

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Monument at Creighton University where I am teaching this summer.

11 comments on “Go.

  1. Oneview says:

    Thank you, Tom, for,sharing your gifts, and for the encouragement to be confident in my own anointing to go out! This post will get me through week two of my new calling! Bless you, Patti, and your beautiful children!

  2. nos. says:

    Oneview may the BLESSED TRINITY bless your new journey. Humble kneelster you are the priceless stone , my shovel is ever ready. P.B.W.Y. always.

  3. mrsjfabrizi says:

    (The Rabbi’s sobering and insightful answer should be the definitive nail-in-the-coffin answer to the “prosperity gospel”. )
    We went to Mass at the shrine of Saint Anne in Quebec this morning and prayed for our cyber-fam there. Look at Ste Anne and St Joachim, the parents of Mary…did they have any idea when they were fulfilling their vocation by faithfully raising their little girl of the amazing mission she alone would have? So amazing to me! Lord give me the grace to “go” too!

  4. LP says:

    At a recent retreat the Director spoke of Mass – the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. But he said there is another liturgy – that of our lives. We bring ourselves to Mass, participate and then return to our homes, a continuing circle. I pondered on his words and felt this was an important aspect of our faith. Mass / Eucharist cannot be just a one-hour devotion but one that permeates our being.

    We come to Mass. We bring ourselves, our joy and sorrow, cares, family, friends and yes, our sin. We listen, we learn, we eat, we are nourished and then we are given our Mission: GO! (But do come back again, often, always, forever.)

    One of the closing hymns of our liturgy sums this up for me. I’d like to share the words with you and wish you could hear it sung as it is a joyful sound, not one of an onerous duty. May God bless Dr Tom and those he inspires with his words and music. LP

    Go, the Mass is ended,
    children of the Lord.
    Take God’s Word to others
    as You’ve heard it spoken to you.
    Go, the Mass is ended,
    go and tell the world
    the Lord is good, the Lord is kind,
    and he loves ev’ry one.

    Go, the Mass is ended,
    take God’s love to all.
    Gladden all who meet you,
    fill their hearts with hope and courage.
    Go, the Mass is ended,
    fill the world with love,
    and give to all what you’ve received
    —the peace and joy of Christ.

    • Thank you, LP, for sharing your lovely and rich reflections and that hymn — what powerful lyrics! Perfect summation of the sense of those final dismissal words. Thank you for your contributions always here, which enrich me and, I am certain, all others who read. What a cyber community of wisdom there is in our anawim, small flock of faithful! 🙂 God bless!

  5. LP says:

    Thank you Dr Tom, I forgot the last verse of the hymn which I think really summarises our mission – to change the world with God’s help, just as you are doing. LP

    Go, the mass is ended,
    strengthened in the Lord,
    lighten ev’ry burden,
    spread the joy of Christ around you.
    Go, the Mass is ended,
    take God’s peace to all.
    This day is yours to change the world
    —to make God known and loved.

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