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MAN OF THE HOUSE | Called to holiness

One purpose of Lent could be listening for, hearing and responding to the call to be saints

“God has chosen you for something noble, something remarkable. God is calling you to greatness.”

That thought has given many people pause about following Jesus. They muse on the ways God called others to greatness. Some involved specific, major life changes. Some required profound sacrifice.

David left the comfort of his family for hardship and threats to his life on his way to being king of the Hebrews. Mary’s life changed dramatically when she said yes to being the mother of the Savior; indeed, that role led to the piercing of her heart.

Each of the apostles had a decent life when Jesus said, “Come, follow me.” They had no idea what that entailed, a kind of greatness that few considered great while they lived.

You and I likely aren’t called the same as David or Mary, as Peter, James or John, as Paul or Mary Magdalene or those folks who started churches in the early years of Christianity. We probably aren’t called to die a physical death at the hands of God’s enemies. Most of us aren’t called to take the vows of the clergy or a religious order.

You might recall the tale of how God called Samuel, by name, as a boy. The prophet Eli told Samuel to respond, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Turns out, God wanted Samuel to be his prophet. A great prophet at that.

“God hasn’t called me,” you might be thinking. “I’m not the kind of person God would call like that.”

Ah, but He has called you. Not just flattering. It’s true.

Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Matthew 9:13). We’re all sinners. So Jesus calls all of us.

I’m convinced that God sends out kind of a “general call.” Put in an informal but modern way, it’s akin to a group text. God says something like this: “Hey, you! God here. Um, I want you to do something. I want you to be something. Get back to me if you’re interested.”

He gives the specifics to anyone who responds.

Because I know you might be curious, I’ve checked Scripture for some of those specifics. Peter said God wants everyone to live, to come to repentance. Paul told his friend Timothy that He wants all people to be saved, to know the truth. Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians that God doesn’t call us to impurity but to holiness.

And in his Letter to the Romans — actually directed to all believers — Paul described us as “called to be holy.” Some translations read “called to be saints.”

Have you ever heard that request, the invitation to holiness?

The most essential purpose of Lent could well be listening for, hearing and responding to that call. It’s about conversion, finding a new commitment — or renewed commitment — to become a saint.

All right, good chance we won’t be canonized as saints. We’re not looking for a plaque in the Catholic hall of fame. Still, we can be holy. We should be holy. We’re clearly called to be holy … eventually.

It’s a process, with sainthood and heaven the ultimate destination. What’s the first step in this new or renewed determination, whether in Lent or another time? A Christian “begins with faith,” said St. John Henry Newman, “that he may end with holiness.”

That doesn’t mean gain more knowledge about faith. It means gain more faith. Reach out in faith in prayer. Ask for more faith, a more zealous faith. Touch Jesus, in faith, throughout each day. Implore Jesus for a hunger for holiness.

Ask for a renewed sense of wonder and excitement about God, to not take Him for granted.

Jesus loves you. Deeply and completely. He has an intense, personal longing for you. As St. Teresa of Calcutta put it, He thirsts for you to love Him. Sure, there’s no way we can ever love God as much as He deserves, but that doesn’t mean not to try.

Listen for His call to be a saint, to be holy. Hear Him ask for your love, for all your heart. Respond by never settling for less than your all.

What can you do with the rest of your Lent — and every other day of the year? “Renew your zeal,” St. Teresa said, “to quench His thirst.” Such a great endeavor.

Eisenbath is a parishioner at St. Cletus in St. Charles.

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