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How Do We Respond To God’s Call: Full or Lip Service?

While I was about to do this write-up on the subject, I recall this very thoughtful story which I bumped into on the web, an excerpt of which is as follows:

A Franciscan priest from South Bronx went to work in a poor village in the mountains of Northern America. The said priest met an old man who appeared so joyful despite the absence of running water, electricity and scarcity of food in their community.

Priest: “How come you’re so happy when you have so little?”
Old Man: “Because I know Jesus”
Priest: “But I know Jesus as well”
Old Man: “No, You might know about Jesus in your head, but not in your heart”.

If we ask ourselves: What about me? How do I know and serve our Lord Jesus Christ? Did HE call me to change to be better than my previous self? How have I responded to His call? If so, did I do it through lip or with full service? Have I experienced true conversion in my heart?

The aforesaid series of questions may appear so simple and easy to respond on the surface but these are often complex. What if Jesus (as an ordinary man just like us) were here on earth, and what if He’d ask us to join His crusade, would we be willing to forego our material possessions, personal interests and ambitions and instead donate and relinquish all these for His cause? Or, would we say: “Yes, my Lord, we believe in your Word you know that we love you, we will follow you” but later on take back and say “Sorry Lord, we just can’t do it”.

For nuns, priests and those in religious vocations, it is probably much easier for them to say “YES” to God’s calling and actually do what God expects of them in view of their vocation vows (e.g. poverty, chastity, obedience, etc.). But in today’s age, I believe even ordinary persons especially those with affluence in life would have second thoughts in responding “Yes” to God. During this pandemic for instance, if only the few billionaires (about 2,153 of them based on Oxfam data) who have more wealth than the 4.6 billion people in the world, will generously shell out half of their wealth to those in need, our problem on poverty and inequality will either be diminished or eradicated. However, most of us set conditionalities before we give out especially if it involves huge sum of money. Most of us would either say: “It depends” or “It depends on the situation, on the person” before we embark on some humanitarian endeavor. Let’s take for instance another example (on a smaller scale) involving sharing our time for the Lord: When we’re confronted with a situation where we are invited to pray the Holy Rosary or the 10 Hail Marys to put an end to this Covid19 virus, or for an online spiritual talk even for just an hour, or simply to be a member of a church choir or in any Church ministry for those who have the time and the talent , most of us would easily say “no” or “maybe later”, or we would “make alibis” because most of the time we are more preoccupied with our jobs. For some of us doing the said activities will not only take a couple of hours of our time but it also does not interest us. At times, we even set boundaries and start shying away from those people inviting us to avoid being approached and challenged again.

What we don’t realize is that people and opportunities keep coming into our lives to accomplish and develop our spiritual goals/growth. But the opportunity to serve God is lost when we decide not take advantage of them. Yes, we have heard Jesus’ teachings from the Church pulpit and read about Him from the Bible, but at times our hearts and minds are closed, definitely not responding to God. We are missing the opportunity to change our lives from “rock bottom” to “rock peak” of our lives, to have a newer and better new life. We are like the second son of the Parable of the Two Sons whose faith and obedience were merely lip-service: he said “Yes” to God, but in reality he said “No”, such that His “Yes” was equated to nothing.

As mentioned in my previous write-ups, God is giving us so many chances to go back to Him and serve Him. By serving God, we are expected to do something good not just for the needy but for all our brothers and sisters who deserve to be served. We could not just rise up and say, “Yes, Lord I will praise, love and and serve you but without doing anything. We cannot love God without loving our neighbors. He wants our full cooperation, not a mere lip service. When we say “Yes”, we have to mean it and do what we say. Again, all these are not easy thing to do. But we just have to try for the better. I myself is struggling but I am trying my best.

As frail human beings, we fail from time to time. We do things our way, and not God’s way. There are times also that we do not want to do unnecessary things because we know from the start that it will cut our relationship with God, however we still do it (which makes us feel more guilty and shameful in the end). Despite this, God is not abandoning us. He is always there to give us rest to loosen up our burdens. However, God is just too. If He were with us today, I think He might utter harsh words at us as well (just what He did to the Pharisees) because of the not-so-nice things we have done. But He is also loving and does not entirely exclude sinners from His company. God forgives us of our sins but He is expecting us to change for the better and allow Him to take charge of our lives. If Jesus were here with us today, He might have been able to give hope to sinners and an outright forgiveness even their grievous sins, but only to sinners who are humble to admit their sins, who have repented and have decided and tried to obey and serve Him for good.

God is expecting all of us to respond to His call sincerely and faithfully, not just with lip but with full service as well. Perhaps, responding gradually to His call to be better Christians and learning to take baby steps now so as to draw near to Him would be prudent than taking no effort at all. Who knows, this will serve as the first step toward bringing hope in renewing our lives, a real conversion of our hearts, and in our friendly relationship with God. Amen.

Have a great day y’all! SMILE GOD loves us all.