I got parishioner feedback from my message last Sunday about what a “Call” is, some of it positive and some critical. Some folks got from the message that their personal experience of a call, directly from God, was not a thing. I am sorry if my message was taken that way, because that wasn’t my point. So, if you are one of those people blessed to have had a direct experience of God giving you a Call, please know that I think that’s great! I would never dispute someone else’s spiritual or religious experience. I hope that clears up any bad feelings because I believe we all have good work to do here together. That unified work in it self is a calling.
Imagine if you will, (as Rod Serling of “The Twilight Zone” used to say) what it is like to have a message inside you so profound that you cannot keep it to yourself. Even if you wanted to, the message and gift you have would be so beneficial to humankind that it would be immoral and wrong for you to hold it to yourself as a secret. As a young girl maybe 11 or 12, I was so proud of my big brother Pete, who I’m sorry to say is now gone to be with God. Peter James Dietz was kind, smart, handsome and well loved. He was a football player, a wrestler and the President of a High School Fraternity Club, but he didn’t act as if he was. He was not smug and because of that I don’t think I ever met anyone who did not like him. When we were very young we were Confirmation pupils of a fine religious teacher and we got it into our heads to walk to church every day during Lent. Well, if truth be told, I would tag along with my big brother who was committed to going. I probably would never have gone had it not been for my inspirational brother. I figured if Peter felt it was a good idea to go that was good enough for me. My love and admiration of my brother was very hard to be silent about. Yet, I did not know any other kid who bragged about their brother and so, I did pretty much keep it to myself. As Pete & I grew older, we were not as close but he was always in the back of my mind as someone who helped to form my thinking and he gave me a sense of right and wrong, you know, morals! Even now, after he has been gone for a few years after being ravaged by cancer, here I am today, telling you about him and his gifts. That’s what a special leader type person he was. People would listen to him and follow him and he was a good and upstanding role model.
In today’s Gospel from Matthew we get a glimpse of a private, self-preserving Jesus. He must have been very afraid when he heard his friend John the Baptizer had been thrown in jail. Verse 12 reports that the arrest of John the baptizer is a turning point, a decision or hinge point, for Jesus. Herod imprisoned John for rebuking him because of “the evil things” he had done. Upon hearing this news, Jesus withdraws to Galilee. Interestingly, the Greek verb for withdraw used here (ἀναχωρέω) is the same verb used to describe Mary and Joseph’s flight to Egypt with Jesus. Jesus’ life reads as though it was rife with moments of fear and fleeing and