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The Catholic Moment: Brick by brick

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

By Sister Carol Gaeke, O.P.

There were three bricklayers who were working on a church. Someone asked the first one what he was doing and he answered, “laying bricks.” The second said that he was building a church, and the third answered, “I am helping to build heaven on earth.”

Everything in life is how we look at it. The novelist Pat Conroy has said that life is an ordinary event or a ticket to a magic show. The lenses through which we look at it make all of the difference.

Vocation is such a lens. As Christians we all have a vocation to follow Jesus in whatever lifestyle God has called us. Some of us live our vocation as plainly doing our duty, finding it pure drudgery. Others do it with a sense of purpose, like the one building the church. Still others do it with a real sense of vision, beyond an act of the moment, with the broader goal in mind of building heaven on earth.

A parent may feed the baby as a duty, but the purpose is to have a healthy, happy child. Another may do this with the goal of the child accomplishing all that he or she can for the good of the world. I believe most parents envision this magic show. They hope that maybe this will be the child who grows up to find the cure for cancer or become a person who can find a way to bring about a more peaceful world.

On Vocation Sunday, Oct. 11, the Gospel was the call of the rich young man to follow Jesus totally, to have a vision of the future that was different than his past. The challenge for each of us is to answer that call in the most complete way possible. The Gospel story isn’t about condemning wealth, but reminding us that we cannot place our security and hearts in it. When tragedy besets us, it is not money that will save us.

World Mission Sunday was observed on Oct. 18. This is when we are challenged to live our vocations more fully for the sake of the kingdom of God. James and John didn’t get this. They felt that since they had given up everything they were entitled to receive the lion’s share of all that Jesus had to offer. They had not yet absorbed Jesus’ vision. They were still in the laying bricks mode. They didn’t understand that it was about building heaven on earth. And the challenge of Jesus is that there is only one way to do this — to follow behind Jesus to the cross. The mission isn’t about self glory but about God’s glory.

Vocation and Mission Sundays are integrally tied together because the Christian vocation is to be in mission. We are to bring the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth. The message of God’s love will only come through those who believe and witness. It isn’t about building bricks or saving souls. It is about building heaven on earth. Look around. Does your world look like heaven? What bricks can you begin laying to make it so?

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