Friday, 15 November 2013

86: Getting ready to receive Jesus' Call

Q. You write that "comprehending the full picture of the Spiritual Journey is essential for each Christian who receives Jesus’ call to follow Him". Does not every Christian receive Jesus' call to follow him?

A. A call is a call (please read this post as well), it happens at a certain point in time. The fact that "all are called", doesn't mean that "all have yet received the call". The call is a personal act from Jesus, to a specific person, when the person is ready. We should remember the fact that the call is Jesus' initiative not ours. He says: “I am the one who calls you, not you”.
Is that  what you meant?
Of course this is an important clarification that I didn't personally see for years. I was convinced, after Vatican II (see Lumen Gentium, "The Universal Call to Holiness"), that "all were called", but then, I realised that "a call is a call", and is not automatic, or to be taken for granted. This call has to enter in time, in the life of a person. And for that to happen, one should be ready. For instance, see how God sent John the Baptist to prepare the people of Israƫl to receive the Messiah.

Q. Is it possible some may never be ready i.e. never receive the call?

A. To speak plainly, I would say the following:
Theoretically the call is there in God's mind/project from day one, from the day he created us. He created us "at His Image and Likeness", He wanted us with Him, breathing His own life. So the initial design and built quality of the human being were meant to have him: being Holy, as God is, because we are made to share His Own life, and breath His own “oxygen”.

But practically, I think that the call for Perfection is heard (/reaches us) in a palpable way when we are close to a specific threshold: having accomplished /fulfilled what should be done as it is described at the third Mansions of Teresa of Avila for example.
There are plenty of other Biblical examples that foster such a vision and understanding. God always prepares us.
1. All the Old Testament, 1800 years (Abraham) at least if not plenty more, is a preparation for humanity (the chosen people first) to receive God himself (the Messiah, Jesus, the Only begotten Son). He didn't send his Son to Adam immediately after his fall.
2. Again: when Jesus was ready to start his mission (at the age of 30) He didn’t start immediately. God send a Prophet, the Greatest one, to pave the way for him, and “prepare” the people, through repentance and a first wash (John’s Baptism).
3. Again, and again, when the Young Rich man asked him what to do in order to reach perfection, /Eternal life, Jesus didn’t start by saying: follow me. He showed us in His reply that preparation was needed: did you follow Moses Commandments?

In other words there is a clear pedagogy from God’s part, in order to help us reach the Supernatural Grace of Jesus, the Personal relationship: the direct, personal call to follow him tightly.

I may add that if the young rich man had answered: "no, I didn't fulfil Moses commandments", he wouldn't be “ready” to “hear” a new Call, a call for Perfection.

Jesus doesn't cancel Moses Commandments, He brings Perfection to them, in Him. So, if what we can really do (with the General help of the Grace of God) is not done, how can we dare dream of higher realms? Total nonsense. Jesus said that faithfulness in “smaller things” will allow God one day to pass us unto greater things: “Well done, good and trustworthy servant, you have been trustworthy in a smaller things, I will put you in charge of greater things.” (Matthew 25:21)

Some people might object: there are plenty of persons amongst the Gentiles (non Jews) in the Act of the Apostles and in the Gospel (the Samaritan lady) who didn't need any preparation. Well, it is not true: When Paul preached at the Assembly of Athens, almost nobody listened to him. They weren't ready. Some Fathers of the Church say that the Greeks were prepared by God through their Philosophers. Which is not wrong, but incomplete.
And what about the great sinners? Well: sin, falling very low, sometimes creates an amazing humility. See the Prodigal son's reflections while eating the pigs food (and compare them with the other son's reflections). Don't we use animal excrements to fertilise the soil ! Humility and real repentance are the best preparations to receive Jesus' Call and Grace. But still, repentance is a long journey of rehabilitation. Even St Paul says that after his powerful conversion he needed 3 years of rehabilitation (see Galatians) and purification.

I humbly think that often we tend to abuse the Grace of God, thinking that we have the right to receive everything. Jesus himself (God) doesn't through the pearls to the pigs (pigs were considered as an impure animal). But in fact, this is a spoiled child behaviour. Certainly He obtained for us everything (Salvation) on the Cross, but the clear teaching of the Bible shows that for each new step one has to be ready.
Matthew's Call (Caravaggio - Rome)
So, all in all, we need to do what each step requires, in order to get to the threshold with the following step.
See the journey of the People of God in the Desert. They reach a point where they break the Covenant with God in a grave way, they don’t TRUST Him when He says: "go and fight the 7 tribes, you will win". What is the consequence? 38 years of purification, until all the generation that was able to fight dies. This lesson alone should make us think. Poor us. (see the clear allusion to these 38 years in John Chapter 5, the healing of the paralysed man.)

If, from God’s part, Salvation is ready and available to us, from our part (the receiving end) we need to get ready to receive it, and this goes step by step, like when you build a huge house. You start with the Foundations, then you go for the ground floor and so forth.

Even if the Plan of the house is ready and clear in God’s mind, we have to undergo the building operations, step by step. Some people think that if they want to burn the stages in between this is possible. Let them think that. You don’t put a New Wine in old skins. We collaborate in the operation of our own salvation, we are co-builders. Some people believe in magic, they think that since Jesus did everything on the Cross then everything is already achieved in us. Not at all. Baptism is a Seed, and the Seed needs to become the biggest tree of the garden. Would this happen magically? People who follow Satan’s inspirations do like the magical easy way. All the three temptations that we see in the Gospel (when Jesus is tempted) are about doing something magically, in an easy way, without the use of our freedom and will, collaborating, through time.
We want to be like puppets, we like that route (the devil’s route) of negative passiveness. We want everything and NOW! We want Him to move us and direct us like dead-puppets. We present the resignation of our will and freedom.
The Call for Perfection follows the laws of construction… or the biological laws of growth. The Grace of God needs our collaboration.
God created us without asking for our permission. He won’t save us, though, without our collaboration.

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