During this past year I sustained an injury to my shoulder and have recently started some physical therapy. A question I’ve been asked a lot on my journey from diagnosis to treatment is, “What do you do for a living?” This question always makes me a little uncomfortable and I pause a moment before responding that I am a monk. My uneasiness is not at the fear of their response but rather to the nature of the question itself. For me, being a monk has never been a career, but rather a vocation.
Now, careers and vocations are not necessarily exclusive of each other, but I think the latter carries a slightly deeper meaning. The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare which means ‘to call.’ A vocation is something to which one feels specifically called. People of faith believe that the calling comes from God and that they have been set a part to do this specific work for His glory.
In today’s gospel lesson we witness a confrontation between Jesus and the Temple authorities. In a sense, the dissension pertains to what Jesus refers to as vocational. Jesus has been healing and doing other acts of mercy which in itself is not questionable. What the Temple authorities take issue with is Jesus’ claim that he has been sent by God, whom he calls ‘father,’ to do this work. To them this is blasphemy because they see it as Jesus claiming that he is of divine origin. Jesus rebuts their claim using a passage from Psalm 82 which was a warning to unjust judges that they should cease from unjust ways and return to defending the poor and the innocent. Judges were consecrated by God to do this work. Verse 6 of this Psalm reads: “Now I say to you, ‘You are gods, and all of you children of the Most High.’” Jesus argued that if scripture could say this about men, why could he not say this about himself? (1)
In actuality, he was not blaspheming but rather honoring God by claiming with authority his relationship to the Father of all. Indeed it is for relationship with God that we all were created and it is when we claim and live into this relationship that the love and goodness of God is made manifest to all the world. Jesus said, “Even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” It is in living into whom we are called to be by God that we experience freedom and abundance of life. This was Jesus’ gospel message; his ‘good news.’
The end of Lent is upon us and we are about to begin the journey with Jesus into Holy Week. As we begin this journey, pray and reflect on your vocation as a child of God. When and where did you first hear God calling you? Perhaps that time is now.
- Barclay, Wiliam. The Gospel of John. Second ed. Vol. 2. Philaelphia: Westminter, 1956. Print.
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