Upsetting Our Cherished Assumptions

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“What do you mean, you want to join the Peace Corps?” “What do you mean, you want to move into a Catholic Worker house?” “What do you mean, you want to study for a degree in ministry?” “What do you mean, you’re discerning religious life?” 

“You must be out of your mind!”  

When someone has a calling, sometimes family members find it hard to swallow. They are concerned about that individual’s material well-being. But a calling that catapults one out of the familiar track also suggests powerfully that life is not all about making a good living, or pursuing a profitable and safe career, or opting for marriage and family life—and this upsets some cherished assumptions.  

Jesus faced this problem himself. He embarked on his mission of teaching and healing, and soon found that he had so many people rushing to him for help that he was liable to be crushed. He went home, and he and his disciples couldn’t even eat, they were so much in demand. His calling, his mission, was upon him—but his family didn’t understand this. In fact, they were alarmed. According to Mark, they tried to restrain him: “He is out of his mind!”  

Yet Jesus was very much in his right mind, more than if he had settled down to Joseph’s carpentry business and done what was expected. His courage is exemplary.  

What about us? Are we listening for God’s call as it summons us to new places? Do we support those young people in our lives who embrace a calling—even when it’s hard for us to understand?  

© Liturgical Press.

Rita Ferrone

Rita Ferrone is contributing writer for Commonweal magazine and author of the recently released Pastoral Guide to Pope Francis’s Desiderio Desideravi. She lives in Mount Vernon, New York

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