1 Corinthians 7:25-31;Psalm 45:11-12, 14-17; Luke 6:20-26
23rd Week in Ordinary Time
It is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. (1 Corinthians 7:26)
Why is it that the invitation to pray “for vocations” is usually understood to mean pray only for certain vocations—namely, for more priests and religious? Why do Catholics who are single—widowed, divorced, or unmarried—often feel vocationless and in spiritual limbo? Why isn’t Christian marriage more generally seen as a high calling and not just a default option for people who can’t handle a consecrated celibate life?
These are tough questions, but one explanation is that in the early centuries of the Church, there developed a tremendous appreciation for monastic life. This was an inspired, important development. However, it was not complemented by a similar appreciation of Christian marriage and lay life. As a result, passages like today’s reading were often interpreted to mean that consecrated celibacy is the only serious option for people seeking a life centered on God. Even saints like Ambrose saw marriage as a God-given but lesser calling—one in which “we seem to lower and close eyes that were intent on the kingdom of God for a kind of slumber here in the world and are asleep to divine things.”
It’s true that Catholic tradition sees celibacy for the “kingdom of heaven” as a kind of shorter, steeper road toward union with God (Matthew 19:12). Yet as Vatican II affirmed, there is one universal call to holiness, and it addresses “all Christians in any state or walk of life” (On the Church, 40). Each person’s vocation is his or her “particular gift from God,” says St. Paul, and what ultimately matters is how well we obey God in this individual calling (1 Corinthians 7:7, 19).
If you have been called to consecrated celibacy, live the gift! The world needs your witness to the reality of a life beyond this one. If you are married, embrace your call! As you love your spouse and care for your family, you are becoming a hero of the faith. If you are single, know that you are a precious gift, loved by God and commissioned to help build the kingdom. Whoever you are, wherever you are, sink your roots into your calling, and bloom into the holiness God offers you.
“Jesus, I embrace the gift of my present life and circumstances. Help me to value my calling as the path to deeper union with you.”~WAU