What This Sunday’s Gospel Teaches Us About Vocations

I read this great article about the role of women in the Catholic Church and how women not being ordained priests should not be equated with having a lesser status or role within the Church.  From the Catholic News Agency, Ana Cristina Villa, a consecrated laywoman with the Marian Community of Reconciliation, writes:

“I think that is a big distortion for the vocation of women, because women are obviously not the clergy,” she said, explaining that “when you get into this discussion about women in the Church you have to understand that there is a wider context.”

In her view, Catholic faithful need to grow in their understanding that, “according to their own vocation,” all “baptized are the Church and all baptized are called to feel the Church as their own and to contribute to the Church.”

When I read the CNA article, my mind immediately recalled this upcoming Sunday’s Gospel. We will be celebrating Jesus as King and yet the Gospel for Sunday focuses on His crucifixion. This highlights how people’s expectations of Christ the King did not match up with the reality — one of the suffering servant. They expected an earthly king with all the power that they envisioned. What they got, but many did not see, was someone infinitely more powerful; not bounded by worldly power but possessing salvational power.

The reason why the CNA article relates to this Sunday’s Gospel is that God created a special role for all of us in His Church. Just because women aren’t intended for the priesthood does not make them any less important. Jesus was not the worldly king people envisioned but that did not make Him any less powerful. When it comes to how we envision women’s role in the Church, we should not limit our thinking to titles and responsibilities.  Otherwise, we fall into the same narrow-minded thinking as those who crucified Jesus for not meeting their pre-conceived notion of a king.

What I want to call your attention to is the importance of reading the Gospel daily and the Sunday Gospel a few days in advance.  If I had not read this Sunday’s Gospel, I would have missed some of the deeper meaning in the article.  By reading scripture and praying the rosary, I can put all the news and events in my life into a perspective that I otherwise might miss.  If you don’t already pray the rosary and read scripture regularly, give it a try.  Advent is right around the corner and it would be a good time to start.

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Pop Quiz

Pop quiz!  Can you honestly answer these questions without looking them up?

  • Can you name all 10 Commandments (bonus if you get them in order)?
  • How many sacraments are there?  What are they?
  • What are the three parts of the Holy Trinity?
  • Who are the four Gospel writers?
  • Who was the first pope?
  • What are the four dogmas about Mary?

How many did you get right?

  • All of them: Someone’s been reading their catechism!
  • Some of them: There’s always room for improvement.
  • None of them: Boy howdy!  We have some work to do.

I’m guessing that most of you fell in that middle category (myself included).  As I was driving today it hit me just how little I know about my Catholic faith.  While far from being a great theologian I should at least know the basics of something that is supposed to be of great importance to my life.  When you think about it, countries and societies are drawn along very few lines.  We group each other mainly along gender, ethnicity, and religion.  So if being a Catholic makes up a large part of who I am why do I know so little about it? And not just me, but it seems like everywhere you turn you see and hear people who do not know the basic foundations of Catholicism. We see it from the “casual Catholic” to even very educated priests.

The basis for our faith is very simple — a love for God.  But how can we love Him and His church if we do not make the effort to really know Him? We go about saying that we are Catholic without knowing what defines the Catholic faith.  Think about it like this.  Would you marry someone after your first date?  Of course not.  In order to love someone you need to know him or her.  A relationship requires a commitment of time and attention.  Of course there is that spark; that little indescribable feeling you get when you are around someone you love.  But that does not completely replace the knowledge of one another that is required for a strong relationship.  The same goes with our relationship with God.  Prayer is that “spark” which moves us closer to God.  But prayer alone cannot replace learning, knowing, and practicing our faith.  We have a much fuller relationship with God when our prayer is matched with understanding the basis for those prayers.

It is of growing importance and urgency that Catholics really embrace their faith and learn it.  No doubt you probably know that many people are leaving the Catholic Church.  While many do not leave the faith for another religion, many stay in name only and do not actively participate. We have all heard descriptions like “Christmas and Easter Catholics”, “Buffet-style Catholics”, “Casual Catholics”, etc. I believe that a lack of knowledge about Catholicism has created this mass exodus. People are losing that strong foundation in their faith, rooted in knowledge and understanding, to the point where the Catholic Church really becomes meaningless in their lives.

If this sounds like doom and gloom, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  Remember that our simple prayers can transform even the most hardened hearts amongst us. I truly believe that a single prayer, said earnestly, has the ability to reach millions.  Remember, the Catholic Church started with one man and a dozen apostles.  And with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there is no limit to what a few people can achieve.  If we make an earnest effort to learn our faith we will see greater returns on that investment than we can possibly imagine.   Because that knowledge, combined with prayer, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit has the power to save souls.  And in the end, that’s what truly matters.

If that was the pep-talk, it is now time to discuss strategy. What can we do to grow in faith and love for God?  After all, we do not transform from couch potato to St. Thomas Aquinas overnight (if you do not know who he is, consider learning about him as your homework).  Here’s a very simple start — read the Bible.  I know, it’s a huge book that will take forever to read right?  Well, you may not have all eternity to read it, but a lifetime should be plenty of time for most of us.  I’m on year three of reading the New Testament and I’m almost done (just three more chapters to go). It’s amazing how much more you get from the Bible when you read chapters in full as opposed to hearing snippets in daily or weekly readings. The foundation of the faith is all right there at your fingertips waiting for you to discover it.

Not ready to give up your couch potato ways? That’s all right, me neither. I really enjoy watching television and browsing the web. But I know I can carve out a few minutes to enjoy some Catholic programming or read some Catholic news. In the long run, I am much better served keeping up to date about the Church than watching reruns of “Friends” and “Seinfeld”.  There are many great Catholic video and radio channels on the web that you can access almost anywhere.

Two feeds I like to watch are the Catholic News Agency:






And the Eternal World Television Network:



Happy learning! Remember, millions of souls depend on it (no pressure or anything).

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