July 29, 2013
When people ask me how or why I came to be a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, my first response is usually “It wasn’t my idea!” It really wasn’t! I was very unqualified, having spent my high school and college years running from God and living in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus. Besides, I had other plans, like having a large family and making a million dollars. Still, the call came. God called me, the sinful guy with other plans, to follow Him, to be with Him, to live for Him, and to serve His people. I tried to protest, tried to run, but ultimately I surrendered to God’s mysterious, yet clear and relentless, pursuit of me.
I thought of this recently as the daily mass readings from Exodus 3 recounted the call of Moses (readings for July 17 and 18). At the time of his call, Moses already had a life of his own. With his Egyptian life behind him, he was now married and tending the flocks of his father-in-law in the land of Midian. It seems that he also felt unqualified. In fact, he felt terrified. God was asking him to return to Egypt and liberate His people from their slavery. The problem, at least as Moses saw it, was that he had a death sentence hanging over his head. Years earlier, he had fled for his life after killing an Egyptian in defense of one of his fellow Hebrews. Now, God wanted to send him back to face Pharaoh and demand that he release God’s people. Moreover, it seems that Moses was not a great speaker (Ex. 4:10). So, in understandable exasperation, he questions God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?” It’s a good question. In a way, Moses really wasn’t the best choice.
The Lord’s response to this good question was simple: “I will be with you.” God doesn’t try to reassure Moses by listing all of his admirable qualities. The Lord’s response implies that He didn’t choose Moses because he was the best choice or the most qualified. He chose Moses in order to demonstrate His own power and love. The Lord chose Moses so that he and all of the Israelites would know that it is God—working through Moses—who saved His people. Moses’ only reassurance in the midst of his own weakness and unworthiness is the Presence of God Himself!
Brothers and Sisters, is it not the same for us? Have we not felt our own weakness in the face of the call of God? Whether it be “the call” to a particular vocation or the daily call to live the gospel, we can easily feel unworthy and incapable of responding. But there’s a hidden wisdom at work here, even if it seems foolish.
In moments of self-doubt, when you’re asking “Why me,” remember these words of St. Paul: “For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…[His] grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness…[Therefore let us] gladly boast of [our] weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon [us]” (1 Cor 1:26-27; 2 Cor 12:9).
+ Fr. Isaac Mary Spinharney, CFR
(click here to see a video from Fr. Isaac)