Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
Having read my Reflection last week, my friend Simon told me about a decision he had to make recently. He is happy that I share it with you as he felt it may help others. He said:
‘Listening to the Epistle being read at Mass the other Sunday it came to me, that I should volunteer to read in Church. How hard is it to read aloud a few verses from the Bible; especially as the Church needs a few more readers? But then came the Gospel reading from Luke 18, the parable concerning the Pharisee and the publican praying in the Temple. Now doubts arose in my mind. What was my real motive for volunteering to read? Was it to help the Church, the vicar, or was it so that the congregation would look at me as I stood at the lectern reading to them from the Authorised Version of the King James Bible? “Look at me standing here, on a raised dais above and in front of you all, am I not important? I can read these arcane words, can you?” Was it my own pride, my self importance leading me to volunteer? In other words, was I acting just as the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable? Then again, I thought of the difficulties of driving in the icy perhaps snowy weather. At my age could I commit to making the journey in all weathers? Supposing I forgot that it was my turn to read? Was I really offering to read to serve God or my own selfish ends? I spoke to a wise old friend who said: “In you I see a willingness to serve as called. Pride comes from a dark, evil place and that is not how I see you. Service and response to a call comes from God” In his words I recognised the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius where in the Call of the King exercise he pictures the risen Christ calling every person to follow Him. Suddenly the decision became clear. The voice I heard was God’s call to serve Him so my response must be to follow. If reading Scripture is what God has called me to do then that is what I must do, and to the best of my ability – ‘for the greater glory of God’.’
As a result Simon is now on the approved list of readers for his Church. But the question remains for us all: when God calls how do we respond? In his book What is Ignatian Spirituality David L Fleming SJ reminds us: ‘Our response occurs now. We are not to be inhibited by our own weakness and failure. We are not to ponder our unworthiness.’
But do we still put up barriers, walls, excuses? Or do we embrace His call whole-heartedly? Remember: ‘ Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.’ 1 Peter 5:7 NIV and: ‘As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead’ James 2:26 NIV.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years