“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.” 1 Corinthian 15:10
I think of today’s readings as a gift. Rarely do all three scriptures have a unifying theme, but this Sunday they do, perhaps a gift for the preacher—meaning me. But I think a gift for all of us seeking direction in life. And that is what I call the Gift of Purpose.
Each reading tells us about someone finding purpose through some action of God… people as different from each other as Isaiah is from Peter and Peter from Paul. And I from you. What we learn today is that God’s action in our lives does not have to be dramatic or extraordinary, although it can be. After all, Isaiah prophesied the coming of the Messiah. But let’s remember, Peter was a fisherman and Paul was a kind of policeman of his day. Neither was on retreat or deep in prayer while fasting when they heard the voice of God. They were just at work doing the things that society expected of them. The way you and I do.
Today’s readings remind us that the Gift of Purpose in our lives is not only unpredictable but it’s also unmerited. Nothing indicates that Isaiah, Peter or Paul are called because of their character, skill set, or potential as missioners. They are called just because God had a plan and only these individuals could fulfill it.
Something else about the Gift of Purpose that we learn today: Peter was called to become the fisher of men and women; and Paul was called to evangelize Jews and Gentiles alike. Which tells me that God’s Gift of Purpose directs us away from ourselves in radical service to others. It enables us to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, and life lessons in everyday events.
One Gift of Purpose I will never forget came to me from a man I knew in Kenya who was dying of cancer. “Cheerful” was not a word I took seriously before I met him, but I changed my attitude when he told me that despite his illness he had set a goal for himself to be cheerful. He used the word often during our visits. That’s when God’s message came to me loud and clear: What we choose to do with our circumstance—whatever form that may take—can have an enormous impact on other people. I was not only humbled by his example, but I realized how much work was left for me to do before I could match his gift-giving.
Friend, no need to abandon the normal routine of daily life to fulfill your calling. I’m just inviting you to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, to find the wings of an angel hiding somewhere in a corner, and even to be an example of the Gift of Purpose that God intended for you. Why not go searching and surprise yourself?
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Lance Nadeau, M.M.
Prayer for 1st Sunday
Come to me, Lord, in everyday things:
in meals to be prepared and enjoyed,
in dishes to be washed and dried,
in laundry to be done, floors swept clean,
furniture dusted and beds to be made.
You, in whom all things live and move
and have their being, help me to seek and find
You no less in the common place than in
lofty Cathedrals and awesome sunsets.
You, who sanctified all of our lives
by Your becoming human through Mary,
bless the minutes and hours of each day,
that I might know Your wisdom and will
guiding me ever gently by Your grace.
Fill my life with purpose and meaning
that not a single moment is ever wasted
but each thought, word and action by me
this day might redound to Your eternal glory.
Prayer by Father Joe Veneroso, M.M.