God’s invitation is for everyone
June 6, 2012
By Comboni Father Louis Gasparini
“Who hears the call?” was the question posed to me, and my first reaction was, “Who is calling?”
In the context of the call to mission, of course, there is only one answer: God. His invitation is for everyone. Some answer and others find themselves busy about other things. This has been the case from the Old Testament forward. Abraham and Sara answered the call though it cost them their land, culture, comfort, and family. They journeyed into the unknown with only God’s promise as collateral. Jeremiah accepted the call but made it clear to the Caller, “You seduced me, Lord.” Isaiah, after a ritual of purification said, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” Moses was at first reluctant, but he ended up accepting God’s challenge, and I think it had a lot to do with the way God worded His request. God said “…I heard the cry of my people… I have come down…”
The poor called then, they called in Jesus’ time, and they call now. God invites us to be instruments of His presence among them by making common cause with them. The history of our church is filled with thousands of women and men who accepted this invitation and lived it out faithfully to the end. Our contemporaries and role models are people such as Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Oscar Romero and our own Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.
Each one of us who hears and answers God’s call to mission has a story. Mine began in fifth grade when a missionary came to talk to our class. In my child’s mind, Africa would put me on the path to adventure, and it did, but in the footsteps of St. Daniel Comboni, who committed his life to the poor of Sudan and empowered them to be evangelizing ministers to their own brothers and sisters. What I first thought was going to be a chance to catch a lion ended up being a journey with the poor, an opportunity to share with them their hopes and fears, successes and tragedies. Yes, I planted faith among those I served, but they took it, and me, to a much deeper level.